The Practice of Medicine by Monkeys

  1. The practice of medicine, it seems, was probably in place well before the emergence of modern man:

    http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/episodes/clever-monkeys/monkeys-and-medicinal-plants/3957/

    This may not be surprising: we tend to consider monkeys smart and human-like. But I wonder how far down it goes, what other animals seek out what we'd call "medicinal" remedies in response to problems.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Cats seek out catnip.
     
  4. Evo

    Staff: Mentor

    Is it an old wive's myth about bears eating willow bark? (aspirin). I don't have the time to look.

    I know dogs and cats eat grass as an emetic.
     

  5. I have read that elephants will travel significant distances to access medicinal plants. But I don't recall where I read that.

    Have you seen the video of the elephant painting? She's much better than I am.
     
  6. symbolipoint

    symbolipoint 3,177
    Homework Helper
    Education Advisor
    Gold Member

    Not remembering exact sources but from science television broadcasts:

    • Chimpanzees ate certain abrasive leaves (forgot of which plant) to help in removing intestinal worms.
    • Parrots (either in Australia or someplace in South America) learned to eat clay from a cliff to neutralize toxic materials from some foods that they ate.

    Humans have the advantages of opposable thumbs and better developed speech and language ability allowing for more intricate scientific study and exploration.
     
  7. That's really interesting!

    People are identifying this as part of a characteristic of a species, but according to studies by Jordi Sabater Pi and Yukimaru Sugiyama things like this are cultural, one group of chimpanzees does it and another doesn't, and they show each other how to do it it. So that if you meet a chimp in east africa and then another one from west africa you'll find they use the same resources in completely different ways.

    They've found evidence that chimps on the Marfil coast have been breaking nuts with the same kind of shaped stone for the past 4000 years.
     
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