New York: Chimpanzees appear to keep tidier sleeping arrangements than humans do, according to a study that evaluated the microbes and insects found in the treetop beds that chimps make each night.
“We know that human homes are effectively their own ecosystems, and human beds often contain a subset of the taxa – or types – of organisms found in the home,” said Megan Thoemmes, a PhD student at North Carolina State University in the US.
“For example, about 35 per cent of bacteria in human beds stem from our own bodies, including faecal, oral and skin bacteria,” said Thoemmes, lead author of the study published in the journal Royal Society Open Science.
The researchers wanted to know how this compares with some of our closest evolutionary relatives, the chimpanzees, which make their own beds daily.
Researchers in Tanzania collected swabs of 41 chimpanzee beds, or nests.
The swabs were used to test for microbial biodiversity. At 15 of the nests, researchers also used vacuums to sample the diversity of arthropods, such as insects and arachnids.
Not surprisingly, chimpanzee beds had vastly different biodiversity from human ones, researchers said.
Chimpanzee beds had a greater diversity of microbes, and the types of microbial life reflected the arboreal environments where the nests were found.
However, chimpanzee beds were much less likely to harbour faecal, oral or skin bacteria, the researchers said.
“We found almost none of those microbes in the chimpanzee nests, which was a little surprising,” Thoemmes said.
“We also expected to see a significant number of arthropod parasites, but we did not,” Thoemmes said.
“There were only four ectoparasites found, across all the nests we looked at. And that’s four individual specimens, not four different species,” he said.