FunNature & AnimalChimpanzee beds are cleaner than ours

Chimpanzee beds are cleaner than ours

Chimpanzees, Pan troglodytes , are more orderly than humans, in at least one matter, and probably many more: They keep their beds cleaner and generally in better shape than we do. That is one of the main conclusions of a recent study in which the populations of microbes and arthropods present in the beds that our evolutionary cousins make every night in the trees of the forests they inhabit have been analyzed.

In the trial, which has been published in the journal Royal Society Open Science , the scientists point out that in their nests they expected to find more microorganisms related to the chimpanzees’ own bodies, such as fecal bacteria or others that are usually found on the skin or in the mouth of these animals. In fact, it is what usually happens in the case of people. However, and to his surprise, it was not. Something similar happened with the ectoparasitic arthropods that they detected in their tree beds. None of the few they came across specialized in chimpanzees or the structures they build. According to these experts, the results suggest that the organisms these primates are exposed to in their beds are essentially the same as those found in their environment .

“Human homes are ecosystems themselves; our beds often contain a sample of what we can find at home. For example, about 35% of the bacteria present in our beds come from our body ”, indicates zoologist Megan Thoemmes, from the Department of Applied Ecology at North Carolina State University, who has coordinated this initiative.

The objective of Thoemmes and his collaborators was to establish to what extent this was the same among chimpanzees, which form shelters with leaves and branches several meters high. To determine the microbial diversity present in them, they took samples in 41 located in Tanzania, where about 2,500 specimens live. In 15, they also looked for insects and arachnids.

Very clean

From the beginning, it was clear that these organisms were going to be considerably different from those that could be found in our beds. Theirs have a greater diversity, but this reflects that of the trees in which they sleep, and they hardly contain microbes related to themselves. “We practically did not find any of the ones we were thinking of locating , such as those that live in the skin, for example. We also expected to find many parasites, but it was not. We detected only four in all the nests we studied, ”says Thoemmes. “And there were only four specimens, not four different species,” he emphasizes.

“Our work reflects how our buildings contribute to reshaping ecosystems and our immediate surroundings. In a way, all of our attempts to achieve the cleanest possible environment make it, in reality, less suitable, ”says this researcher in a statement.

Reference: Ecology of sleeping: the microbial and arthropod associates of chimpanzee beds . Megan S. Thoemmes et al. Royal Society Open Science . 2018. DOI: 10.1098 / rsos.180382

Image: Purpleairplane via Wikimedia Commons / CC

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