Abstract # 46:

Scheduled for Saturday, September 19, 2009 06:30 PM-09:00 PM: Session 5 (Mission Bay Ballroom CDE) Poster Presentation


M. Baker
Anthropology Department, Rhode Island College, Providence, RI 02908-1991, USA

It is well documented that animals, including nonhuman primates, make use of substances in their environment which have medicinal benefits. Such substances may be ingested as seen in chimpanzees [Pan troglodytes; Huffman, 1994; Wrangham, 1989], applied topically documented among capuchin monkeys [Cebus spp.; Baker, 1996, 1999], coatis [Nasua spp.; Gompper 1993] and hedgehogs [Erinaceinae; Brockie, 1976] ; woven into nesting materials observed in many passerine birds [Passeriformes; Clark, 1987], or used in situ as a location for nest construction as recorded in gall wasps [Cynipidae; Taper & Case, 1987]. A review of the literature on the co-evolution of plant-animal relationships demonstrates that there are three primary characteristics to which animals respond when selecting bioative substances: they are bitter, pungent or cause physical stimulation; e.g., they are sticky, abrasive, or which induce tingling or irritation. These characteristics are also attractive to animals that are not self-medicating, but which use substances for protection against predators or pathogens, as is seen in Spanish Dancer nudibranchs [Hexabranchus sanguineus; Pawlick et al., 1988] and wood ants [Formica spp.; Castella, 2008]. The ethnomedicinal literature demonstrates that humans use similar criteria for recognizing medicinal substances and literature supports the idea that there are underlying predispositions for attraction to such substances-- similar to dietary taste preferences-- shared by both humans and animals, which facilitates the development of taste preferences for substances which provide relief from illness or external harm.