Results infographic for website

In a new study scientists have found that the vocal abilities of orangutans are more varied than once thought. The researchers observed wild populations of both Bornean and Sumatran orangutans to record their calls and compare them. Orangutans have many distinctive calls that serve different purposes. For example, the ‘Kiss Squeak’ indicates that they are agitated and the ‘Long Call’ is used by males to attract a mate.

The study found that orangutans do have the ability to adapt the length and pitch of their calls as a result of their social groupings. In other words, orangutans can communicate with different ‘accents’ and ‘slang’ based on their environment and social influences – just like humans!

The researchers discovered that smaller groups of orangutans use more calls, giving them a larger vocabulary than larger groups who use less calls but in a variety of ways by altering the duration or pitch of the sound. This could be because in bigger groups it’s more difficult to stand out from the crowd, so these orangutans have to be more creative and original to ensure they are heard above all others.


If you would like to hear some of the calls orangutans make you can listen here!