Orangutans are smaller apes than gorillas. The males are much larger than the females. A full grown male is
about 260 pounds and almost 6.5 feet tall. Females weigh about 100 pounds and are only about 4 feet tall. One
distinct feature of males is that they have very large cheek flaps. They continue to get larger as the animal gets
older. It is also believed they serve to attract females for mating purposes. While male orangutans can become
quite large they only average about 2/3 the size of a gorilla.
The body of an orangutan is well designed for them to swing from the trees in the rainforest where they live.
They have arms and legs that are very long. You will notice that the arms are almost twice as long as the legs.
They can reach with their arms about 7 ½ feet. They also have extremely strong muscles in these parts of
their body so they can pull themselves and they can swing with ease. They also are very long and lean.
Orangutans are more flexible than humans or other types of apes. Research shows this is due to the design of
their body. They don’t have hip joints that fuse the femur to the pelvis. As a result they are able to twist in
ways that other apes and humans simply can’t do without causing pain and bodily harm to themselves. Their movements
are quite graceful due to this body design. However, you will notice that they don’t have the ability to move very
You will notice that orangutans don’t have tails either. They have hair on their bodies that isn’t very thick
but they can be very long. They range in color from a very light brown to dark brown. There are also shades of
orange as well. You will notice that an orangutan has a very large head and a thick neck. They have a mouth that
sticks out more than other apes, and it does give them a comical appearance.
Their hands feature four fingers and an opposable thumb just like a human. They also have four toes and an
opposable big toe. They are able to pick up items easily with both their hands and their feet. They don’t walk on
their knuckles as apes are able to. This is because orangutans very rarely are found on the ground walking. When
they do you will notice that their fingers curl inwards. They use the palm of their hands with their fingers in
that position to move and to offer them balance.
The coloring of an orangutan can range from various shades or orange to a dark brownish color. They are covered
with hair, not fur as many people think. They also have hair that is long and course. It isn’t very thick though
but enough to help regulate their body temperatures. The Sumatran orangutan has a thinner coat of hair than the
Bornean species. This is due to the fact that it is much warmer there.
Another significant difference of the species is the shape of their faces. With the Sumatran orangutan you will
notice a diamond shape. The Bornean though has a face which is square in shape. Both species have long and powerful
jaws. They also have rows of sharp teeth. They use their teeth to tear open food and to grind up their food. They
don’t use their teeth though for aggression as many people believe. Should they get into a confrontation they will
use their powerful arms and legs to fight with. They can swing from the trees and kick at the same time.