As a last step, he fully covered the wound with the chewed leaves

Saturday, May 4th, 2024

There is widespread evidence of such self-medication in non-human animals — whole-leaf swallowing, bitter-pith chewing, and fur rubbing in African great apes, orangutans, white handed gibbons, and several other species of monkeys — but there had been only one report of active wound treatment in non-human animals, namely in chimpanzees, until scientists spotted the active self-treatment of a facial wound with a biologically active plant by a male Sumatran orangutan:

We observed a male Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii) who sustained a facial wound. Three days after the injury he selectively ripped off leaves of a liana with the common name Akar Kuning (Fibraurea tinctoria), chewed on them, and then repeatedly applied the resulting juice onto the facial wound. As a last step, he fully covered the wound with the chewed leaves. Found in tropical forests of Southeast Asia, this and related liana species are known for their analgesic, antipyretic, and diuretic effects and are used in traditional medicine to treat various diseases, such as dysentery, diabetes, and malaria. Previous analyses of plant chemical compounds show the presence of furanoditerpenoids and protoberberine alkaloids, which are known to have antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, antioxidant, and other biological activities of relevance to wound healing. This possibly innovative behavior presents the first systematically documented case of active wound treatment with a plant species know to contain biologically active substances by a wild animal and provides new insights into the origins of human wound care.

Orangutan Facial Wound Healing


  1. Gaikokumaniakku says:

    After the lemur bites the millipede, it sprays its toxic secretion, which the lemur then rubs all over its fur. Research suggests that there is a practical purpose to this: the benzoquinone secretion functions as a natural pesticide and wards off malaria-carrying mosquitos. The secretion also acts as a narcotic, which causes the lemur to salivate profusely and enter a state of intoxication.

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