Orangutans make medicine, a new study found. They were caught on video chewing up a certain type of leaf to make a wet paste, then rubbing it on their joints. It helps with inflammation.
Orangutans are like Dr. House with more hair.
Amazingly, local people use the same paste in the same way, rubbing it on their bodies for muscle pain after a stroke and for sore bones and swelling. Mother orangutans use it after carrying their babies all day.
The word orang-utang means, in Indonesian, "forest man." Pretty good name, considering that they're about the same size as us, have similar facial features, and, being overweight, orange and large, look like a close relative of a certain overweight orange reality TV star.
But the finding that orangutans are secret medical geniuses shocked even those who know them intimately. This is the first time an animal has been seen applying an anti-inflammatory agent, said the scientific paper that resulted from the video.
It's not the first time we've spotted animals using medicine, though. All kinds of animals use plants and insects to change their bodies for both medical and recreational purposes, same as you use Tylenol, weed and — let's face it — more weed. Tasmanian Wallabies chew opium poppies, jaguars eat ayahuasca and reindeer eat mushrooms.
Here's the video of the primate pharmacists, from the Borneo Nature Foundation.