Monkeys work magic on insects

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The Independent Online

Monkeys have perfected their own insect repellent, from the body of a freshly squashed four-inch millipede.

Monkeys have perfected their own insect repellent, from the body of a freshly squashed four-inch millipede.

Deep in the Venezuelan jungle, wedge-capped capuchin monkeys can be found gathering in groups of up to 35 for rub-down sessions. The lotion comes from a squashed Orthoporus dorsovittatus millipede.

A team of American researchers who were working at Venezuela's Fundo Pecuario Masaguaral jungle reserve found that one millipede is potent enough for the entire troop, and far more powerful than the strongest jungle-strength repellent used by armies. But it is too painful for human useage.

Some capuchins were seen popping a poisonous millipede into their mouths - perhaps to hurry the secretion process, the researchers speculate.

The team discovered the monkeys' mosquito repellant when they were trying to find out why the capuchins spend less time scratching themselves than other primates.

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