Chimpanzees heal with insects

what kind of medical science is this? One that seems to arise in nature. Alessandra Mascaro is a volunteer biologist with ‘The Loango Chimpanzee’ project. She sensed something never documented before. Chimpanzees heal themselves with insects.

Chimpanzees heal with insects, using them as a topical cream on wounds.
Chimpanzees heal with insects, using them as a topical cream on wounds.

Chimpanzee doctors

I was studying a female chimpanzee named Suzee and her offspring Sia. Y noticed that the mother was applying something to a wound on Sia’s foot. She discovered that it was a topical treatment. She used an insect for this. That got their attention and they studied other primates. It turned out to be a regular behavior. They would take insects and then rub them on their wounds. They observed 20 other similar occurrences on the west coast of Africa.

A special case occurred with an adult chimpanzee, Littlegrey. He had a deep open wound. An adult female, Carol, caught an insect to help him heal the wound. She handed it to Littlegrey, and he applied it to the wound. Then Carol and two other adult chimpanzees also touched the wound and moved the insect over it.

The study was published at Current Biology. This discovery proposes a novel thesis. Our species is not the only one to play the roles of physician and patient.

“Chimpanzees regularly capture insects and apply them to open wounds. We should investigate the possible beneficial consequences of such a surprising behavior.” Explained primatologist Tobias Deschner of the University of Massachusetts.

It is a behavior never observed before.
It is a behavior never observed before.

Healing properties

They do not yet identify the insects used by chimpanzees. They are suspected to possess some kind of anti-inflammatory or antiseptic properties.

Chimpanzees exhibit several behaviors that appear to be prosocial in their habitat. They share food, adoption, territorial patrolling, and cooperative hunting. The meaning of these acts are the subject of debate among evolutionary biologists. Some suggest that chimpanzees are only concerned with their own welfare.

“It is fascinating to know that seeing chimpanzees heal themselves with insects. There are decades of research on wild chimpanzees, but they still surprise us. There is so much to explore and discover about our closest living relatives,” concluded Tobias Deschner.

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