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For the first time, an orangutan healed his wound using a well-known medicinal plant Smart news

For the first time, an orangutan healed his wound using a well-known medicinal plant  Smart news

During more than 20 years of field research, Rakos became the first orangutan to be observed using a medicinal plant to treat wounds.
Armas/Market project via the Max Planck Institute

In June 2022, a team of researchers observed a behavior never before seen in the animal world: a Sumatran orangutan named Racus self-treated an injury with a medicinal plant.

In Gunung Leuser National Park, a rainforest reserve on the western Indonesian island of Sumatra, scientists heard from the treetops a series of “long calls,” a behavior that typically anticipates assertions of male dominance or aggression. The next day, they saw Rakos with an open wound on his right cheek, just below his eye.

Days later, the team watched Rakos get to work, picking and chewing the stems and leaves of the acar kuning plant (Februria tinctoria) or yellow root. The plant is a climbing vine native to the area and is used by locals for its medicinal properties to treat conditions such as diabetes, dysentery and malaria.

Although it is not considered a staple in the orangutan’s diet – the team noted that the yellow root is eaten only 0.3% of the time – Rakos consumed it anyway. He also chewed it without swallowing it, then spread its juice and compresses on his wound where some flies began to gather. Rakus returned to the plant and ate it the next day, and soon his wound was completely healed. This week, an analysis of orangutan behavior was published in the journal Scientific reports.

“[This] “It is the first observation of a wild animal treating its wound using a medicinal plant.” Isabelle LemireA primatologist at the Max Planck Institute for Animal Behavior in Germany and lead author of the study says: National Geographic‘s Darrell Austin.

Nine photographs showing the gradual progress of the healing of Rakos' cheek wound

Within five days of using the yellow root juice and puree, the wound on Rakos’ cheek closed.

Lemire et al.

It took five days after treatment for the wound to close, and scientists saw no signs of infection after one month. Research on the chemistry of yellow root has shown that the plant has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antioxidant, pain-relieving, and anti-cancer properties. guardian‘s Nicola Davis reports.

Sumatran orangutan They are an endangered species – only 14,600 Remains All over the world, and the area around Gunung Leuser Palembing Market Research Station It is home to the highest density of creatures on Earth. But in 21 years of observing orangutans in this park, scientists have never seen an individual self-heal a wound with acar kuning.

Four leaves of the yellow root, a plant endemic to Sumatra and known for its medicinal properties

Yellow root leaves, a plant known for its medicinal qualities.

Lemire et al.

Primates may not be injured enough in the wild to need its healing properties, he writes Nature News Gayathri Vaidyanathan. Or perhaps Rakos, now 35, is the only person who knows the technique.

Whatever the reason, scientists agree that this observation offers new insights into natural medical practices.

“We often overlook the fact that modern medicine derives from a very ancient system of knowledge that began millions of years ago in a variety of environments in which our knowledge is only just beginning to expand.” Mary Ann Ragantesays a biological anthropologist at Kent State University who was not involved in the study National Geographic.

Wild orangutans effectively treat wounds using the healing plant

Previous research has shown that orangutans in Borneo self-medicate by rubbing their limbs with chewed plants, perhaps Relieve muscle pain. Chimpanzees are known to spread chewed insects on their wounds, although the effectiveness of this treatment is uncertain. Other animals engage in similar practices: several species of birds rub themselves with ants — a technique called “anting” — to rid their bodies of parasites or feather mites. The New York TimesDouglas Main reports.

But the novelty of Rakos’s behavior comes from his treatment of an external wound and from Akar Koning’s well-known healing qualities, which scientists have recognized as unique.

“This shows that orangutans and humans share knowledge,” says the study’s co-author. Carolyn Shopleya primatologist at the Max Planck Institute for Animal Behavior Nature News.

This incident may shed light on the origins of self-treatment of wounds, which is what humans mentioned in a medical manuscript dating back to 2200 BC. guardian He writes.

“The fact that this has only been observed once in a study population leaves many unanswered questions about the origin of the behavior, but it adds to the idea that self-medication may have very deep evolutionary roots in our lineage.” Ann Poseysays an evolutionary anthropologist at Duke University who was not involved in the study National Geographic.

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