German zoologist speaks to biology classes on research of orangutans

Elijah Akhtarzad

German zoologist Graham Banes recounted his experiences with orangutans and highlighted the scientific similarities between orangutans and humans  to multiple biology classes March 21. For the past six years, Banes lived in the jungles of Borneo, the third largest island in the world, and resided in close contact with orangutans.

“After living in Borneo for such a long time, I saw that humans and orangutans are 98% similar in their habits,” Banes said.

Banes started studying orangutans in Asia when he was 19, and since then has experienced many interactions with specific orangutans. Not only can Banes distinguish each orangutan by their certain features, but waits each morning to obtain feces samples to determine which orangutans are reproducing the most and which are the most dominant in a specific area.

Other than looking closely at the orangutans DNA from feces samples, Banes has built special bonds with each orangutan he has encountered in different places in Borneo. Orangutans have tricked Banes from locking him in a room by meddling with the lock and a screwdriver to holding in there feces to prevent Banes from gaining DNA samples.

History teacher Greg Gonzalez helped organize the event for multiple biology classes to not only help further help explain genetics and evolution to these biology classes, but to explain the importance of palm oil deforestation, which has left many animals without habitats.