Feeds

Orangutans concoct plant-based soothing balm

Great apes show medicinal savvy

Remote control for virtualized desktops

Indonesian wild orangutans have demonstrated a certain degree of medicinal savvy by deploying naturally-occuring anti-inflammatory drugs to "treat aches and pains", as the New Scientist puts it.

Four of the Bornean orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus) were spotted by Cambridge University primatologist Helen Morrogh-Bernard in the Sabangau Peat Swamp Forest in Central Kalimantan preparing a "soothing balm".

Back in 2005, Morrogh-Bernard watched as an adult female picked a handful of leaves from a plant, chewed them, and used saliva to produce a green-white lather. She then "scooped up some of the lather with her right hand and applied it up and down the back of her left arm, from the base of the shoulder to the wrist, just as a person would apply sunscreen".

Morrogh-Bernard noted: "She was concentrating on her arm only and was methodical in the way she was applying the soapy foam. I knew this must be some form of self-medication."

The orangutan finally ditched the leaves, which allowed Morrogh-Bernard to identify them as belonging to the genus Commelina. Significantly, orangutans don't eat these plants as part of their normal diet, and local indigenous people are also aware of their anti-inflammatory properties.

Morrogh-Bernard has since clocked three other orangutans using their home-brew balm, saying it "links apes and humans directly". While she said the former "may not have learnt how to apply the anti-inflammatory ointment from local people", the opposite may be true.

Morrogh-Bernard's findings are published in the International Journal of Primatology. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
FORGET the CLIMATE: FATTIES are a MUCH BIGGER problem - study
Fat guy? Drink or smoke? You're worse than a TERRORIST
Rosetta probot drilling DENIED: Philae has its 'LEG in the AIR'
NOT best position for scientific fulfillment
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
HUMAN DNA 'will be FOUND ON MOON' – rockin' boffin Brian Cox
Crowdfund plan to stimulate Blighty's space programme
Post-pub nosh neckfiller: The MIGHTY Scotch egg
Off to the boozer? This delicacy might help mitigate the effects
I'M SO SORRY, sobs Rosetta Brit boffin in 'sexist' sexy shirt storm
'He is just being himself' says proud mum of larger-than-life physicist
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Managing SSL certificates with ease
The lack of operational efficiencies and compliance pitfalls associated with poor SSL certificate management, and how the right SSL certificate management tool can help.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.