Michael Huffman: "The evolution of animal self-medication, with particular reference to the Order Primates"

Talk link: https://youtu.be/9YuYVYeExdA

Primate Conversations with Michael Huffman - 13th Oct 2020

Talk abstract: Infection by parasites, viruses and other pathogens affect behaviour, health and reproductive fitness of the individual. Animals have evolved a variety of means by which they can counteract these affronts to their health homeostasis. Largely from work on primates, the multidisciplinary study of self-medication currently recognises four basic modes for how this is achieved: 1) optimal avoidance or reduction of disease transmission: 2) dietary selection of items with a preventative or health maintenance affect: 3) ingestion of substance for the curative treatment of a disease or its symptoms: and 4) external use of these substance for the treatment or control of disease bearing insects. Primates have provided considerable evidence for the control of intestinal parasites across all four modes. I will review our progress in this field to date, comparing evidence across a wide range of animal species to illustrate the evolution of animal self-medication. I will also provide examples of how observing the behaviour of sick animals has traditionally aided humans in the search for new medicines and serves today as a bio-rational for the search of new uses for natural plant compounds in human and livestock health care.

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