Friday, January 24, 2003

JUNGLE MEDICINE

Primates found popping prenatal drug

A Madagascan lemur has been revealed as the first animal known to self-medicate when pregnant. Female sifaka eat plants rich in poisonous tannins in the weeks before giving birth, researchers have discovered....

Numerous primates, including chimps, baboons, black lemurs and capuchins, dip into the jungle pharmacy to combat parasites.

Some 39 species have been observed eating soil, which soaks up toxins in the gut and allows the animals to eat poisonous plants without getting sick. Another trick used by chimps is to swallow bristly leaves whole, which irritate their stomachs and induce diarrhoea, flushing out tapeworms and other gut parasites....