Posted by: Tobias | July 29, 2008

News from the animal kingdom

Today brings the news of two discoveries in the world of all things moving:

First is the discovery of primatologists from the University of Cambridge that oragutans self-medicate by chewing up leaves of various herbs and plants and then use the resulting paste to treat aches and pains. I’d never heard of such behavior and frankly am stunned by the exent of means-end rationality and long-term planning ability that this behavior clearly implies. But apparently the furry jungle inhabitants aren’t the only ones to do such things:

Chimpanzees and gorillas are thought to self medicate, mainly by swallowing rough leaves or chewed plant pith to help flush out intestinal parasites. A few monkey species and one species of lemur are known to rub concoctions, such as tobacco, onion or garlic onto their fur to repel insects or parasites.

Weird that the female lemurs (lemurettes?) haven’t complained about the garlic and onion smell yet…

Second, there is the pen-tailed tree shrew, native to the rainforests of Malaysia, for whom the fermented nectar of palm trees is a regular dietary component, they spend about 2 hours each night looking for this stuff. And here’s the cool part: despite the chronic alcoholism, the shrew (or rather its evolutionary heritage) has figured out how to do this without ever getting a hang-over. So, in my next life I’d like to be a pen-tailed tree shrew. Pretty please, God!?


  1. Those oragutans are clearly more intelligent than those monkeys over here at my work, although a banana makes them here to go the extra mile (pressing number 2 instead of number 1).

    If I could I would sign up to become a pen-tailed tree shrew next time also. However a minor adjustment will be needed after all their fur reveals the key to their sobriety! Not everybody has to know that once in a while I am sober!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: