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Orangutan and human teenagers are more similar than we thought

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Caroline Schuppli

Just like human children and teens look to older role models for tips on how to behave, young primates spend a lot of time studying their elders, too.

Established research shows that once humans are old enough to tell the difference between males and females, we tend to mimic older people of the same gender.

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But researchers didn’t know if teen orangutans — one of our closest living animal relatives — might be so selective in whom they learn from, too.

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In the study, which was published in the journal PLOS One, researchers analyzed how 50 orangutans living in Sumatra interacted together over the course of 15 years.

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Meanwhile, the males took an interest in adult male orangutans who had traveled from other parts of the forest. As adults, males tend to wander, while females stay close to home.

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Read more stories on animals here.

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