The Wildlife Pharmacy - WildTrails
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The Wildlife Pharmacy

lemurs The Wildlife Pharmacy

The Wildlife Pharmacy

Wildlife Pharmacy – it’s a common knowledge that how wildlife uses herbs to keep their illness away but recently scientists have found that wildlife also uses other organisms to cure their illness which probably is a breakthrough – may be cure for all great illness of mankind are probably present in the jungles.

Most animals are herbivorist (like a pharmacist) – birds weave insect-repelling plants into their nests to keep blood-sucking bugs at bay, Fruit flies lay their eggs on fermenting matter that is rich in ethanol, which drives away parasitic wasps, etc to name a few but animals employing the products of other animals for medical purposes are, by contrast, rare. But here is an example of that and may such cases might exist in the jungles which we are not aware of.

Louise Peckre of the German Primate Centre, in Göttingen, has found that red-fronted lemurs treat threadworm infestations in the gut and around the anus with millipede juice. Unlike their fellow myriapods the centipedes, which are venomous, millipedes have no chemical weapons. But they have chemical defenses, particularly benzoquinones. These can blind, burn and poison would-be predators, and also act as insect repellents. It was in this context, as she describes in a paper in Primates, that Ms. Peckre watched with fascination the habit of some red-fronted lemurs she had under observation in the Kirindy Forest, in Madagascar, of gnawing on benzoquinone-rich millipedes and rubbing the remains around their anuses, then swallowing them. She saw six lemurs doing this and was left wondering, why were they doing?

Some monkeys rub millipede juice onto their skin to ward off biting insects, so what she had seen was not completely unexpected. But Ms. Peckre’s lemurs were not behaving in a way that suggested repelling insects was their purpose. Lemurs’ anal regions are furry and are rarely attacked by bloodsucking arthropods. Nor would swallowing dismembered pieces of millipede seem likely to deter something that was attacking the skin. Pieces of the puzzle started to come together, though, when she and her colleagues noticed, by analyzing the lemurs’ feces, that times of peak millipede use coincided with threadworm infestations in the lemurs’ guts. We humans go to a pharmacy store and pick up deworming medicine which is nothing but drugs such as benzimidazole, which is similar in structure to benzoquinone that lemurs were using.


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