Science Bites: September 5th

Science Bites: September 5th

Gorillas display potential cultural traits

African gorillas show foraging, communication and social interaction behaviors that meet the criteria of potential cultural traits, according to a new study. The researchers found western and eastern African gorillas displayed variation in behaviors, as did gorillas from different geographical sites, suggesting they might use social learning to pass on these traits. This could be a starting point for demonstrating the existence of non-human culture.

Cantsbee, a silverback gorilla in the study of potential cultural traits

Silverback Cantsbee was one of the African gorillas studied to identify potential cultural traits

Adding primary care hours reduces minor emergency department visits

Opening UK primary care practices for more evening and weekend hours is associated with a reduction in patients visiting emergency departments for minor problems. In an analysis of patient-initiated visits to emergency departments for minor problems, there were 26.4% fewer visits from patients registered at 56 Greater Manchester-based practices with extended hours than from patients at practices with normal hours. However, the researchers note that the cost of extending opening hours would be high.

Hookworm infection exerts high global burden

Worldwide, hookworm infection results in over 4 million healthy life years lost due to illness or early death and could cost anywhere between $7.5 billion and $138.9 billion in productivity losses per year, according to a computer simulation model. The model used data on hookworm prevalence and intensity of infection to predict health outcomes, plus data on gross national product per capita to estimate productivity losses due to different severities of symptoms. The researchers note that the burden of hookworm infection could exceed that of diseases that receive more attention, including rotavirus and dengue fever.

Images Credits: Martha M. Robbins/MPI-EVAN.


Beth works at PLOS as Journal Media Manager. She read Natural Sciences, specializing in Pathology, at the University of Cambridge before joining PLOS in 2013. She feels fortunate to be able to read and write about the exciting new research published by PLOS.

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