Orangutan and Chimpanzees


The remarkable man-like apes of the great Indian
islands, appear to have been entirely unknown to the
ancients, unless Pliny’s mention of Indian satyrs
refers to the orang-outan. It is not, indeed, until the
middle of the seventeenth century, that we find any
notice of these animals in the writings of Europeans.
About this period, the Orang-outon is mentioned by
Johnston in his ” Historia Animalium,” but described
as brought from Angola. In 1658, however, some
genuine observations upon the orang, were published
in Holland; their author, Bontius, a Dutch physician
residing in Batavia, having seen ” several of these
satyrs of both sexes” in that country. The English
anatomist, Tyson, whose work on the chimpanzee has
already been quoted, also refers to the orang-outan,
upon the appearance and habits of which he had
obtained some details from a French missionary,
named Lecomte ; and a little later, Leguat, a French
voyager, gave a description of a large ape which he
saw in captivity in Java, and which could only have
been an orang-outan. The notices of the species then
become more frequent in works on Natural History;
but the two great authorities of the eighteenth century,
Linnaeus and Buffon, both agreed in regarding
the great Indian and African apes as belonging to a
[ingle species. They were imperfectly distinguished
iGmelin, who still describes the pongo as a variety
of the orang-outan, inhabiting both Java and Guinea.
Since the chimpanzee has been clearly recognized as
a species distinct from the orang, there has been a
tendency to multiply the species of the large Eastern
apes; and we find no less than six supposed species
described by different authors, principally from peculiarities
in the structure of the skeleton

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Antique wood engraved page of featuring Oranguans and Chimpanzees


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