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Amazing DIY orang-utans

Orang-utans use sticks to catch insects, but do you think they would use human tools? Watch this video and find out!

Do the preparation task first. Then watch the video and do the exercise. Remember you can read the transcript at any time.


Presenter (David Attenborough): You might think that this orang-utan is washing socks as some kind of circus trick for which she has been specially trained, but not so. She is doing this entirely on her own initiative. She has seen others doing it and she's copying. And that ability to imitate as well as to use tools is something which started among monkeys but has been brought to a much greater level among the apes. And those two talents were ultimately to lead to the transformation of the world.  

Camp Leakey in Borneo is home to a special group of orangs who have been rescued from captivity and returned to the wild. Because they've lived partly in our world as well as theirs they can give us an insight into what we have in common. This old lady loves DIY. So does her son, who was born in the wild. Even her infant is interested. It's very striking when you sit as close to an orang-utan as this, to see how similar they are to human beings. We are both, of course, great apes. But look how human her hand is, the skill with which she picks things up, the way that she can grasp a tool like that. The way she uses her brain to imitate what she's seen others doing. But the most important thing we share is our big brain. It's that that has produced so many of the talents and abilities that we have in common.





Language level

Upper intermediate: B2


It's talented. Not really physical, but on screens. Not really.

I enjoyed the video ...still i totally refuse to consider my self or any other human as Descendants to monkeys ..which is based on a theory had repealed and haven't been proven to be correct
we from the beganing till the end lived and will live as humans

Do note that a scientific "theory" is the closest something can get to being proven correct in scientific language. It is by no means a theory that lacks sufficient proof, like the word would suggest in normal speech.

As an example, the theory of gravity is also still considered a theory. We know it is true, because we can observe it, just like how we are able to observe the theory of evolution. The only reason it is called a theory still, is because it always possible for a evidence to come up that changes our view of how the theory works.

You are of course welcome to believe whatever you want, but if I may; often people find it hard to believe that apes "just changed into humans". But consider that we are talking of a timespan of hundreds of millions of years for small changes to appear. Our predecessors didn't just change into humans between one lifetime, which is why it is actually quite difficult to determine how we apply the term species to this theory.

What was first: the chicken or the egg. This question is not just hard to answer. It is impossible.

I love this website due to its useful and interesting things which make me love studying English more. The video shows the lovely side of animal. However, I would argue with the main idea of the video which was expressed by the sentence " we are both, ofcourse, great apes". Humans are not apes. Humans are not animals. Why did the reporter strongly affirm like that without any experiments?

In science we are indeed all considered animals. That is not such a bad thing, it just means that we are living breathings things, instead of rocks or trees or bacteria.

In modern science we know that we are in fact a member of the great apes, also known as Hominidae. I recommend reading up on this, it is actually really interesting!

Don't think though that just because we are animals, we are now any dumber or worth less than we were. In fact, humans are a very intelligent species indeed! Something we can be very proud of. That is why it is interesting to see how Urang-Utan behave in very similar manners as us, as we are both great apes.

Animal´s life documentaries are my favorites TV programs. They are full of an amazing photography, plenty of beautiful images, and - what is more important - show how interesting are the animals: the way they live, survive and adapt to environment.
If more people knows about animal´s life and how important they are for nature´s balance, for sure there would be more respect and concern about animals well-being.

Is very wierd to me see this kind of animals using tools, but the great Apes always supraise me whit their behavior.

Nobody doubts, that big apes, and orang-utans in perticular, are (together with dolphins), the cleverest animals on the Earth.
But what is the idea of this video? Does the presenter imply, that they are able to evolve into a new human species in some thousands or milions years?

Hello, the word evolve refers to a change that a living being (this means animals, plants, bacterias, etc) suffers due to a mechanism call mutation, adaptation and natural selection acting through thousands of years. As Mr. Peter says, the presenter does not say so, not now not in a million years. Also, there is no living being more evolved than another one, in the line of evolution every organism has its own process and has the same "degree" of evolution. So yes, a bacteria is evolved in the same way as we are (sorry to tell you this).
Nature is fascinating, we only have to respect and protect it.

Hello Yshc,

There is no suggestion that orang-utans will evolve into a new human species in the video. Evolution is not linear and orang-utans are not a step on the way to anything else but a fully evolved species which is a cousin of ours, not a precursor.

The presenter is showing the similarities between different great apes/hominids (humans and orang-utans in this case), not a path from one to another.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team