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科学美国人60秒:黑猩猩为啥把昆虫涂在伤口上

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Christopher Intagliata: Chimpanzees can make tools, they display emotions, and they can outfox humans at certain memory games. But chimps also resemble us in another way—they use medicine. They're known to eat tough leaves and bitter plants to purge parasites from their guts.

黑猩猩可以制造工具,表达情感,在某些记忆游戏中可以胜过人类。但黑猩猩在另一个方面也与我们相似——它们会使用药物。众所周知,它们会吃坚硬的叶子和苦涩的植物来清除肠道中的寄生虫。

Now researchers have observed chimps applying a never-before-seen type of treatment—snatching flying insects, and applying them to their wounds. You can see this happening in a video they filmed at Loango National Park, in Central Africa.

现在,研究人员观察到黑猩猩采用了一种前所未见的治疗方法——捕捉飞虫,并将它们涂在伤口上。研究人员在中部非洲的卢安果国家公园(Loango National Park)拍下了这一幕。

Simone Pika: Suddenly Suzee is sitting up. She's catching something from under a bush, she's putting it between her lips, she seems to press it. And then she's grabbing the foot of her son with a wound, and then is applying the insect to the wound.

苏西(Suzee)突然坐起来,抓住了灌木下的什么东西,然后塞到自己的嘴唇之间,好像要将其压扁。接下来,她抓起儿子受伤的脚,把昆虫敷在伤口上。

Intagliata: Simone Pika is a cognitive biologist at the University of Osnabrück, in Germany. And part of the team that studies these chimps.

西蒙娜·皮卡(Simone Pika)是德国奥斯纳布吕克大学的认知生物学家,也是研究这些黑猩猩的团队成员。

She says it's possible the insects have antibacterial or soothing qualities—but this could also be a cultural practice. With no medical benefit at all.

她说这些昆虫可能具有抗菌或舒缓的作用——但这也可能是一种文化习俗,根本没有医疗价值。

Pika: Maybe an individual just found out that it's intriguing, I get a lot of attention, others come, I get some grooming ... and so it just resulted into a social behavior.

也许一只黑猩猩发现这样做很有趣,得到了很多关注,吸引其他猩猩前来围观,它也因此出名了……所以这也可能纯属社交行为。

Intagliata: After all, Pika points out that humans perform plenty of rituals, with no obvious function.

就像皮卡指出的,就连人类也会有很多没有任何明显功能的习惯性行为。

Her team reported their findings in the journal Current Biology. [Alessandra Mascaro et al., Application of insects to wounds of self and others by chimpanzees in the wild]

她的团队在《当代生物学》杂志上报告了他们的发现。[Alessandra Mascaro 等人,野生黑猩猩将昆虫应用于自身和他人的伤口]

And they write that this could be an example of what's called "prosocial behavior."

他们写道,这可能是所谓的“亲社会行为”的一个例子。

Pika: They help each other and it's not just a mother helping her offspring and it's not somebody helping somebody to increase genetic benefits, but it's also individuals who are not related to each other.

它们互相帮助,不仅仅是母亲帮助自己的后代,也不仅仅是某个个体为了遗传上的利益而帮助另一个个体——彼此毫无关系的个体也可能互相帮助。

Intagliata: As for those insects? The team has not yet identified any remains.

至于那些昆虫?该小组尚未发现任何残骸。

Pika: Because it's tiny pieces and we are primatologists. But now we have talked to entomologists and have an idea of how to find even smallest remains, and then there are also techniques to then identify the species.

因为它们是小型物种,而我们是灵长类动物学家。我们已经和昆虫学家进行了探讨,想出了一种找到哪怕最微末昆虫遗骸的方法,还会借助其他技术来进行物种识别。

Intagliata: If they do—they'll be able to learn more about what function this practice might have, if any. And perhaps we humans will be able to learn some medicinal tricks from our primate cousins.

如果团队继续研究下去,他们将更深入地了解黑猩猩这些行为的可能作用。也许,人类也能从我们的灵长类近亲身上学到一些药用技巧。

Christopher Intagliata: Chimpanzees can make tools, they display emotions, and they can outfox humans at certain memory games. But chimps also resemble us in another way—they use medicine. They're known to eat tough leaves and bitter plants to purge parasites from their guts.

Now researchers have observed chimps applying a never-before-seen type of treatment—snatching flying insects, and applying them to their wounds. You can see this happening in a video they filmed at Loango National Park, in Central Africa.

Simone Pika: Suddenly Suzee is sitting up. She's catching something from under a bush, she's putting it between her lips, she seems to press it. And then she's grabbing the foot of her son with a wound, and then is applying the insect to the wound.

Intagliata: Simone Pika is a cognitive biologist at the University of Osnabrück, in Germany. And part of the team that studies these chimps.

She says it's possible the insects have antibacterial or soothing qualities—but this could also be a cultural practice. With no medical benefit at all.

Pika: Maybe an individual just found out that it's intriguing, I get a lot of attention, others come, I get some grooming ... and so it just resulted into a social behavior.

Intagliata: After all, Pika points out that humans perform plenty of rituals, with no obvious function.

Her team reported their findings in the journal Current Biology. [Alessandra Mascaro et al., Application of insects to wounds of self and others by chimpanzees in the wild]

And they write that this could be an example of what's called "prosocial behavior."

Pika: They help each other and it's not just a mother helping her offspring and it's not somebody helping somebody to increase genetic benefits, but it's also individuals who are not related to each other.

Intagliata: As for those insects? The team has not yet identified any remains.

Pika: Because it's tiny pieces and we are primatologists. But now we have talked to entomologists and have an idea of how to find even smallest remains, and then there are also techniques to then identify the species.

Intagliata: If they do—they'll be able to learn more about what function this practice might have, if any. And perhaps we humans will be able to learn some medicinal tricks from our primate cousins.


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