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 September 2, 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 September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) — A new study suggests 100 percent of adult humans (those over 18 years of age) have Demodex mites living in their faces. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Washington Wildlife Center Goes Nuts Over Baby Squirrels

Washington Wildlife Center Goes Nuts Over Baby Squirrels

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 30, 2014) — An animal rescue in Washington state receives an influx of orphaned squirrels, keeping workers busy as they nurse them back to health. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Experimental Ebola Drug ZMapp Cures Lab Monkeys Of Disease

Experimental Ebola Drug ZMapp Cures Lab Monkeys Of Disease

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) — In a new study, a promising experimental treatment for Ebola managed to cure a group of infected macaque monkeys. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) — State health officials say testing has confirmed the presence of a killer amoeba in a water system serving three St. John the Baptist Parish towns. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
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