Sunday, April 2

Chimpanzees heal their wounds and those of others with insects | Digital Trends Spanish

A team of researchers from several institutions in Germany observed a group of chimpanzees applying insects to their wounds and those of others, a behavior that experts say shows that these animals, in addition to self-medicating, have empathy.

The finding, described in a study published in the journal Current Biologyexplains that between 2019 and 2020, experts documented 76 cases in which these primates caught insects on the fly to apply them to wounds of various members of their community.

Alessandra Mascaro, one of the scientific authors of the research, says that the first case was documented in 2019 in the Loango National Park, in Gabon, when a chimpanzee named Suzee, after looking at a wound on the foot of her son (an adolescent named Sia), caught an insect in the air, chewed on it, and then smeared it on the end of its stem.

Fascinated by the finding, the experts conducted observations over a period of 15 months, documenting similar cases. One of the most notable, the specialists noted, involved an adult chimpanzee with a deep wound, who was tended to by three other primates who massaged the wound with a dead insect.

“I find it particularly fascinating because many people doubt the social skills of animals,” said fellow biologist Simone Pika.

The expert stressed that the use of insects as a kind of medicine is not a coincidence, since these animals can have antibiotic, antiviral and antiparasitic functions.

The specialists said that studying this kind of behavior in apes offers new directions for research on our cognitive evolution.

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