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Observing a wild orangutan using first aid for injury in first science

Apparently, humans aren't the only primates with a first aid kit. In new research published today, scientists document that a male orangutan named Rakos used a plant with known medicinal properties to help heal his facial wound. While there are other recent accounts of animals using medicine in the wild, this appears to be the first report of an animal applying plants to its wounds as a type of topical ointment, the authors say.

This insight was captured by lead researcher Isabelle Loomer and her colleagues. Since 1994, the team has been studying wild Sumatran orangutans (I put on my abele) They live at the Palembing Soak Research Site in Indonesia, an area of ​​protected rainforest that was home to about 150 orangutans.

During daily surveillance rounds in late June 2022, they came across Rakos, who was suffering from a severe wound to his right side. Its frenum (thick, prominent cheek pads in some males). The wound was likely from a recent fight with a nearby man. . Three days after his wound appeared, Rakos did something researchers had never seen before. Swallow, chew and spit. Cut from a nearby plant and then dry the wound with the resulting plant mixture.

Among all the evidence collected by the team, the details published Rakos seemed to know exactly what he was doing, he told Scientific Reports on Thursday.

Footage of Racus the orangutan before, during and after his successful first aid treatment with Vibraria tinctoria.

Footage of Rakus the orangutan before, during and after his successful first aid application Februria tinctoria.
picture: Loomer et al/Scientific Reports

Initially, Rakos applied the plant only to his wounds and nowhere else on his body. He also did this repeatedly and made sure to get enough of the plant's hard pulp to completely cover his wound, a process that took about seven minutes. He was then observed eating the plantar again the next day.

The actual plant he uses is called Rakus Februria tinctoria, also known as Akar Kuning. Humans in the region have long used this plant as a traditional medical treatment for various conditions, while studies have identified components found in the plant that have antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antifungal and other beneficial medicinal properties. But perhaps the most dramatic evidence is that Rakos seemed to recover quickly after treating the plant. Within five days, his wound had closed. At the end of August, it was barely noticeable.

There have been other reports of self-medication performed by animals in the wild, including other primates. In the 2022 study, for example, scientists Documented Chimpanzees catch flying insects from the air, chew them, and then apply the mixture to their own wounds or the wounds of other chimpanzees. In the group. It has also been observed that some animals eat plants that can have analgesic or healing powers. But this appears to be the first documented case of an animal effectively treating its fresh wounds by applying a medicinal plant topically, the authors say.

There are still many questions about the team's discovery, including exactly how Rakus learned to heal himself in the first place. Local orangutans rarely eat it, and in decades of monitoring, the team has never seen an injured orangutan in a drive. Try to use it in the same way as rakus (however, injuries to the area do not occur as frequently).

Male orangutans tend to move farther away from home, and like all adults there, the rakus are not native to the orangutans. You may have originally learned this behavior by watching others where you grew up. But it's also possible that Rakos is just a rather cunning and lucky orangutan.

“Individuals may accidentally touch their wounds while ingesting this plant and thus inadvertently apply the juice of the plant to their wounds,” Lommer, currently a postdoctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Animal Behavior in Germany, told Gizmodo via email. Februria tinctoria “It has powerful analgesic effects; individuals can feel an immediate release of pain, causing them to repeat the behavior many times.”

Loomer's team will continue to closely monitor the Souq orangutan to see if other members can pull off the same trick. In the meantime, they hope their research will help us appreciate our ape cousins ​​a little better.

“Observing the treatment of wounds using a medicinal plant in our closest relatives once again points to the similarities we share. “We are more similar than different,” he said. “We hope this study will raise awareness about their endangered status in the wild.”

This content has been automatically translated from the original article. Due to the nuances of machine translation, there may be slight differences. For the original version, click here.

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Aileen Morales

"Beer nerd. Food fanatic. Alcohol scholar. Tv practitioner. Writer. Troublemaker. Falls down a lot."

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