Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Down To Earth Remedies For Chimps: Eat Mud

Date:
January 11, 2008
Source:
Springer
Summary:
The deliberate ingestion of soil, or "geophagy," has important health benefits for chimpanzees, according to scientists. Far from being a dysfunctional behavior, geophagy has evolved as a practice for maintaining health amongst chimpanzees. In this particular study, geophagy is shown to increase the potency of ingested plants with anti-malarial properties.

The deliberate ingestion of soil, or ‘geophagy’, has important health benefits for chimpanzees, according to Sabrina Krief and her colleagues from the Musιum National d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris, France.  Far from being a dysfunctional behavior, geophagy has evolved as a practice for maintaining health amongst chimpanzees.  In this particular study geophagy is shown to increase the potency of ingested plants with anti-malarial properties.

Although geophagy is widespread throughout the animal kingdom, in humans it is perceived as a curious behavior, even linked by some to mental health issues.  The paper looks at the consequences of soil ingestion on the health status of chimpanzees in the Kibale National Park in Uganda.  These chimpanzees have been observed to ingest soil shortly before or after consuming plant parts, such as the leaves of Trichilia rubescens, which have anti-malarial properties in the laboratory.

The research team collected fourteen samples of soil eaten by chimpanzees as well as T. rubescens leaves from young trees in the same area.  They designed a digestion model to replicate the digestive process of mastication, gastric and intestinal digestion in the laboratory.  The samples were then analyzed for bioactive properties.  The soil and leaves were examined both individually and as a mixture.

Before being mixed with the soil, the digested leaves showed no significant anti-malarial activity.  However, when the leaves and soil were digested together, the mixture had clear anti-malarial properties.

The researchers also compared the composition of the soil eaten by chimpanzees with the content of soil used by the local healer to treat diarrhea amongst his patients.  All the soil samples were rich in the clay mineral kaolinite, the principal component of some anti-diarrheal medicines.  Furthermore, samples used by chimps and humans had exactly the same external aspects, were collected in a similar place and show a comparable physical and chemical profile, indicating similar content.

On the basis of these observations, Krief commented, “This overlapping use by humans and apes is interesting from both evolutionary and conservation perspectives - saving apes and their forests is also important for human health.”

Krief and her colleagues discount mineral supplementation, stress-induced behavior and the search for anti-diarrheal effects of clay as the reasons behind the chimpanzees’ geophagy observed at the field site during this study period.  They propose geophagy’s ability to enhance the pharmacological properties of plants as a novel argument to explain motivation for chimpanzees to ingest soil.  They conclude that geophagy is a practice for maintaining health which may explain why it has persisted through evolution.

Journal reference: Krief S, Klein N & Frφhlich F (2008). Geophagy: soil consumption enhances the bioactivities of plants eaten by chimpanzees.  Naturwissenschaften (DOI 10.1007/s00114-007-0333-0


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Springer. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Springer. "Down To Earth Remedies For Chimps: Eat Mud." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 January 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080109094344.htm>.
Springer. (2008, January 11). Down To Earth Remedies For Chimps: Eat Mud. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080109094344.htm
Springer. "Down To Earth Remedies For Chimps: Eat Mud." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080109094344.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) — Dairy farmers and ethnic groups in Vermont are both benefiting from a unique collaborative effort that's feeding a growing need for fresh and affordable goat meat. (April 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Great British Farmland Boom

The Great British Farmland Boom

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 17, 2014) — Britain's troubled Co-operative Group is preparing to cash in on nearly 18,000 acres of farmland in one of the biggest UK land sales in decades. As Ivor Bennett reports, the market timing couldn't be better, with farmland prices soaring over 270 percent in the last 10 years. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction

Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) — With plenty of honking, flapping, and fluttering, more than three dozen Caribbean flamingos at Zoo Miami were rounded up today as the iconic exhibit was closed for renovations. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 16, 2014) — Crocodile farming has been a challenge in Zimbabwe in recent years do the economic collapse and the financial crisis. But as Ciara Sutton reports one of Europe's biggest suppliers of skins to the luxury market has come up with an unusual survival strategy - vegetarian food. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins