Online Talk: Orangutan Fossils – Conservation Lesson from the Deep Past

Date : 28 Aug 2021
Time : 10am - 11am
Location : Hosted on Zoom by Dr Yong Ding Li (Bird Group) and Gloria Seow (Education Committee)

Open to the Public - Registration Needed

The Orangutan is the only surviving non-human great ape in Asia. It is the only extant great ape with a relatively ‘readable’ fossil record, stretching from 2.5 million years ago to the time when its current geographic regions were occupied by human hunter-gatherers. Both facts make the Orangutan a unique subject matter when discussing current environmental and human impacts on great apes. Prime among the paleontological and zooarchaeological sites that yield Orangutan remains are the archaeological sites at Niah Caves in Sarawak, Borneo. The deepest zooarchaeological record is around 45,000 years old, and is also the most complete and relatively unbroken record known so far from Borneo. What do these ancient remains tell us about past populations in prehistoric Niah? Is there a conservation lesson from these old bones and teeth? What do recent findings beyond Niah tell us about past distribution of the Orangutan? In the natural history exploration of Southeast Asia, who may have first encouraged the systematic search for Orangutan fossils? Who uncovered the first Orangutan fossils known to the modern scientific world, and where did this happen? Join vertebrate palaeontologist and zooarchaeologist Lim Tze Tshen as he sheds light on these exciting scientific and historical questions. The session will wrap with a Q&A segment.

Please register at:

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- All are welcome to join us.

Closing Date
21 August 2021, Saturday

Lim Tze Tshen

For enquiries, contact Gloria Seow at

About the Speaker
LIM Tze Tshen (MPhil, Cambridge) was a research fellow of the Sarawak Museum Campus Project from 2019-2020. He is now based in the Geology Department, University of Malaya. By profession, he is a vertebrate palaeontologist and a zooarchaeologist. Lim has carried out systematic research on historical and more recently discovered orangutan fossils kept in museums worldwide.

In collaboration with colleagues from the University of Malaya and Palaeontology Society of Malaysia, he is also actively involved in the search for and study of fossil orangutans and other mammals recovered from palaeontological sites in Peninsular Malaysia. His research topics in Sarawak Museum focused on the systematic cataloguing of the rich and diverse zooarchaeological collections stored in the museum, and detailed investigation of the large mammal remains from Niah Caves archaeological sites, particularly, primates and other locally extinct mammal species.

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