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Chimpanzee Nest Microbes

May 28, 2018

Are ape beds cleaner than ours?

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

The sleeping arrangements of apes. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Every night, chimpanzees build themselves a cozy nest to sleep in out of tree branches and leaves. Now, a microbial analysis reveals that, compared with human beds, chimpanzee nests are pretty darn clean. Scientists sampled 41 chimpanzee nests in Tanzania, according to University of Oslo primatologist Adriana Hernandez-Aguilar. They found that the nests harbored few skin or fecal bacteria – similar to the surrounding trees. In contrast, human beds are teaming with these microbes.  

ADRIANA HERNANDEZ-AGUILAR (University of Oslo):

In a way you could say that human homes were more dirty than chimpanzee beds, which is not what most people will think. 

HIRSHON:

Her team writes in Royal Society Open Science that our closest relatives likely avoid microbes by building a new nest every night, whereas sleeping in the same spot fills our beds with them. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Susanne Bard