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article imageChimpanzee beds are cleaner than human ones

By Tim Sandle     May 20, 2018 in Science
New research will surprise those who think they have a high level of personal hygiene. A microbiological study of the sleeping areas of chimpanzees and human beds has found that, socially, the sleeping areas of chimps are cleaner.
The study, from North Carolina State University, looked at a tribe of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). These chimpanzees have dense black hair covering their bodies except the face, fingers, toes, palms of the hands and soles of the feet.
The researchers discovered that the non-human primates keep tidier sleeping arrangements than humans do. This formed part of a detailed study into the microbiological levels and types found in the treetop beds oft chimpanzees.
With the research, the scientists examined the microorganisms and arthropods found in chimpanzee beds relative to the surrounding environment. In total 41 chimpanzees were examined across 15 sleeping areas.
The experimental hypothesis was that the range of microorganisms found in chimpanzee beds would be less diverse compared with those recovered from nearby branches. Moreover, it was expected that the non-human primate beds would be composed, in the majority, of body-associated organisms.
Instead, it was discovered there were significant variations across wet and dry seasons in terms of both microbial diversity and community structure. These findings suggested that the microbiota to which chimpanzees are exposed to while in their beds is very similar to the richness of the surrounding environment.
Another interesting find was that chimpanzee beds were cleaner, in terms of having fewer pathogenic microorganisms, than human beds. Here the chimpanzee beds were much less likely to harbor fecal, oral or skin bacteria.
According to lead researcher Dr. Megan Thoemmes: “This work really highlights the role that human-made structures play in shaping the ecosystems of our immediate environment…In some ways, our attempts to create a clean environment for ourselves may actually make our surroundings less ideal."
The research has been published in the journal Royal Society Open Science. The paper is titled “Ecology of sleeping: the microbial and arthropod associates of chimpanzee beds.”
More about Chimpanzee, Human, microbiome, Microbiology, Bacteria
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