Did you know:
Some orangutans breastfeed their babies for over 8 years 🙉
It's not easy to observe an orangutans 🦧 nursing it's baby. Most of the time they are hiding in trees 🌴 or nurse at night.
So how do biologists 👨🔬 🧑🏫 know how long and how often orangutan mothers breastfeed their babies?
Well there is another way ...
That is via their "teeth" 🦷 ... Wait what?! Yes mama, that's correct their "teeth"!
Researchers found that orangutans 🦧 breastfeed for even longer than the 6️⃣ to 7️⃣ year nursing period when they're in the wild, some breastfeed for over 8️⃣ years using the milk cyclically to supplement a baby orangutan’s diet of fruits and insects.
Researchers were analyzing orangutan teeth (molars in particular) from museum collections, looking for chemical signs of breastfeeding.
When a mammal is breastfeeding, some of the calcium that goes into their milk comes from her skeleton. Calcium is very similar, chemically, to another element found in bodies barium.
When a baby 👶 drinks the calcium-laden🥛 milk from their mother, some of the barium is along for the ride.
Barium is a bone-seeking element that ends up in the skeleton and teeth.
So by looking at barium in their teeth, the researchers can tell when an orangutan was breastfeeding, and when they were eating solid foods.