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Gone fishing, orangutan-style

Red apes in Borneo catch fish, sometimes with simple tools.

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3:12pm, April 15, 2011

MINNEAPOLIS — Orangutans swim about as well as they fly, but research on three Indonesian islands shows that these long-limbed apes nonetheless catch and eat fish.

Orangutans living in Borneo scavenge fish that wash up along the shore and scoop catfish out of small ponds for fresh meals, anthropologist Anne Russon of York University in Toronto reported on April 14 at a meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists. Over two years, Russon saw several animals on these forested islands learn on their own to jab at catfish with sticks, so that the panicked prey would flop out of ponds and into a red ape’s waiting hands.

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