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How I See It: Can animals teach us more about healing?4 min read

March 16, 2022 3 min read

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How I See It: Can animals teach us more about healing?4 min read

Reading Time: 3 minutes

How I See It is a weekly column by our youngest member, Arav B.
While he writes about all things under the sun, his special interests are technology, science and sports.

Did you know that many ancient communities survived without medicine as we know it today? So, what did they use instead to heal their wounds? Let’s take the indigenous people of Americas as an example. Most Indians used combinations of spices and herbs to heal their wounds. Other ailments were also cured using ingredients they found around them.

This got me thinking — How do animals heal their wounds? Many scientists are asking that question after they witnessed chimpanzees, one of humans’ closest relatives, treating their wounds with mashed up insects!

In this picture, a chimpanzee is seen applying crushed insects on another chimpanzee’s wounds. Photo: Tobias Deschner/AFP/Getty Images

Watch the video below to hear what researchers have to say!

What makes the story even more exciting is that the chimpanzees applied the insects to others’ wounds too. Scientists noticed this happening consistently, as it happened recently too with other chimpanzees. Scientists finally published their findings in a research paper three years after it began and this is what we learned…

What happened in 2019…

In 2019, a chimpanzee named Suzee in the African nation of Gabon was seen doing just this. She captured an insect out of the air, squeezed it in her mouth, and applied the ground insect to her adolescent son’s wound. Since early humans were seen doing this, except with herbs, the scientists were encouraged to pursue more findings of this interesting behaviour. The wound eventually healed, leading scientists to study these behaviours, and eventually, publish their findings in a research paper.

Owliver’s Obscure Observations

Chimpanzees are humans closest relatives in the animal kingdom. They share nearly 99% of their DNA with Homo sapiens. Their brain size is almost the same as ours. And that is validated, by their resourcefulness and smarts. Chimpanzees seem to share a lot of the same characteristics that we have. We feel empathy and love to play, and so do chimpanzees. In this way, chimps have been used for several studies to learn more about human behaviour and how close these animals really are to us.

Based on the chimpanzees’ rapid movements to catch these insects, the scientists believe it was some sort of flying insect. Scientists believe these insects have anti-inflammatory properties with a soothing effect. Since insects are known to have numerous medicinal properties, scientists plan to conduct more research to look into this interesting medicinal practice. They want to study what type of insect is used to heal these wounds.

Application to our lives

The scientists say that even if there are no medical benefits or applications to this behaviour, they want to understand more about how chimpanzee societies work. Based on this behaviour, we can learn a lot more about our own lives too. We can learn more about the deeper connections we as humans have with one another, and how these relationships affect our mind and our actions.

Solve the jigsaw puzzle below for a brief introduction into someone
truly remarkable. Someone who has done years and years of work in
studying primates.

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