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Are You Cleaner Than A Chimpanzee?

Well, apparently not.

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A recent study done by students at North Carolina State University found that chimpanzees actually have more hygienic beds than humans do.

“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. For example, about thirty-five percent of bacteria in human beds stem from our own bodies, including fecal, oral and skin bacteria,” Megan Thoemmes, lead author of a paper on the work and a Ph.D. student at North Carolina State University, reported.

Thoemmes and her fellow students wanted to know how this compared to that of one of human’s closest revolutionary relatives, the chimpanzee, who make their own beds every night.

“Researchers in Tanzania collected swabs of forty-one chimpanzee beds, or nests. The swabs were used to test for microbial biodiversity. At fifteen of the nests, researchers also used vacuums to sample the diversity of arthropods, such as insects and arachnids,” according to ScienceDaily.

Although they found that chimpanzee beds had a greater diversity of microbes, which reflected the environment around them, there was little to no presence of fecal, oral or skin bacteria, that was prominent in human beds.

Thoemmes and her peers were also expecting to see a number of arthropod parasites in chimpanzee beds, but only found four individual ectoparasites within the forty-one beds.

“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,” Thoemmes concluded.

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Gigi Foster is a student at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. She's a midfielder on the women's soccer team and is studying ocean sciences.

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