Friday, May 24, 2024

Orangutan in Indonesian rainforest treats own facial wound, say researchers: ‘Appeared intentional’

Share


An orangutan in a protected Indonesian rainforest site who sustained a facial wound treated the injury himself, according to a study published in the journal Scientific Reports earlier this month.

The male primate chewed the leaves of a plant known for its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and pain-relieving properties — then applied a paste he made from the chewed leaves to his facial wound, according to the study.

The researchers — from the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior in Germany and Universitas Nasional in Indonesia — observed the orangutan, named Rakus, over the course of several weeks in the summer of 2022.

GORILLA, JUST 4 MONTHS OLD, DELIGHTS ZOO VISITORS WITH FUNNY FACES: ‘VERY HAPPY’

His wound closed within five days, he noted. 

Less than a month later, it appeared to be fully healed with a barely visible scar, according to the published report. 

An orangutan that sustained a facial wound, shown on the left, treated it himself, according to a study published in the journal Scientific Reports earlier this month. In the image on the right, his scar is just barely noticeable. (Armas Fitra & Safruddin & TNGL & KLHK & MPI & UNAS & YEL)

This is the first observed case of active wound treatment with a “known biologically active plant substance” applied by a male Sumatran orangutan in the wild.

“He began chewing the leaves without swallowing them and using his fingers to apply the plant juice from his mouth directly onto his facial wound,” the researchers noted in their published study. 

“This behavior was repeated several times.”

‘KITTENS’ DROPPED OFF AT ARIZONA HUMANE SOCIETY TURNED OUT TO BE SOMETHING ELSE

“Rakus then smeared the entire wound with the plant pulp until the red flesh was fully covered with the green leaf material. He then continued feeding on this plant,” they continued.

The orangutan was observed at the Suaq Balimbing research site in Indonesia.

It is a rainforest area that is home to approximately 150 critically endangered Sumatran orangutans, according to a news release.

“The behavior of the Sumatran flanged male orangutan reported here appeared to be intentional,” the researchers wrote. 

“The entire process took a considerable amount of time.”

The study authors said the animal’s facial wound likely occurred during a fight with a neighboring male. 

TIKTOK TRENDING QUESTION ABOUT ‘BEING STUCK IN A FOREST’ WITH ‘A MAN OR A BEAR’ YIELDS STRATEGIC TIPS

Isabelle Laumer, a primatologist and cognitive biologist at the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior in Germany — one of the lead study authors — said in an email to Fox News Digital that the primate used a climbing plant called Fibraurea tinctoria.

The plant is known for its analgesic effects and is used in traditional medicine to treat conditions such as malaria.`     

When asked how Rakus knew to use that plant to treat his own wound, Laumer replied, “It is possible that wound treatment with Fibraurea tinctoria emerges through accidental individual innovation.”

She added, “Individuals may accidentally touch their wounds while feeding on Fibraurea tinctoria and thus unintentionally apply the plant’s juice to their wounds … As Fibraurea tinctoria has potent analgesic effects, Rakus may have felt an immediate pain release, causing him to repeat the behavior several times and subsequently apply solid plant matter.”

UTAH CAT ACCIDENTALLY SHIPPED IN AN AMAZON RETURN BOX, FOUND 650 MILES FROM HOME BY WAREHOUSE WORKER

Rakus was not born at the research site, Laumer said.

Male orangutans typically disperse over wide distances when they reach puberty to establish a new home in another area, the expert noted.

“It’s possible that orangutans at his native area showed the behavior,” Laumer said.

Dr. Isabelle Laumer

Dr. Isabelle Laumer, a primatologist and cognitive biologist at the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior in Germany, was one of the lead study authors. (Alice Auersperg)

Similar types of self-treatment have been reported in the past with other primates.

Great apes have reportedly ingested certain plants to treat parasite infections and rubbed plant material on their skin to treat sore muscles, the researchers noted. 

“Maybe we can learn something about human medicine from them.”

A group of chimpanzees in Gabon was also observed applying insects to wounds, although “the efficiency of this behavior is still unknown,” according to a news release.

These types of observations could help humans with treating potential health conditions, the researchers said. 

Gorilla with leaves

The study authors said Rakus’ facial wound likely occurred during an altercation with a neighboring male.  (Saidi Agam & TNGL & KLHK & MPI & UNAS & YEL)

“So far, I have heard several reports that people have actually learned about the medicinal properties of plants through observing animals,” Laumer told Fox News Digital.

CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP FOR OUR HEALTH NEWSLETTER

Dr. Robin Sturtz, a veterinarian who was not involved in the study, commented on the findings.

“It’s great that they caught these images,” she told Fox News Digital, but noted that the published report is observational.

Medicinal leaves

The primate used a climbing plant called Fibraurea tinctoria, the researchers said, to help a facial wound to heal. (Saidi Agam & TNGL & KLHK & MPI & UNAS & YEL)

“We need to see if it’s repeated in this or another animal,” Sturtz told Fox News Digital. 

“They are incredibly smart, though, and do learn quickly,” she added. “Maybe we can learn something about human medicine from them.”

Caroline Schuppli, one of the co-authors of the published study, noted in a news release that forms of active wound treatment are not limited to humans.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

“[They] can also be found in both African and Asian great apes,” she stated. 

“It is possible that there exists a common underlying mechanism for the recognition and application of substances with medical or functional properties to wounds, and that our last common ancestor already showed similar forms of ointment behavior.”

For more Health articles, visit www.foxnews.com/health.





Source link

Read more

Local News