Academic journal article The Science Teacher

High-Status Baboons Heal Faster

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

High-Status Baboons Heal Faster

Article excerpt

It helps to be top dog, or in this case, top baboon.

Male baboons that rank high within their society recover more quickly from injuries and are less likely to become ill than other males, according to a study by University of Notre Dame biologist Beth Archie and colleagues from Princeton and Duke universities. Results appeared in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The finding is somewhat surprising, given that top-ranked males also experience high stress, which should sup-press immune responses. The scientists also found that social status is a better predictor of wound-healing than age.

"The power of this study is in identifying the biological mechanisms that may confer health benefits to high-ranking members of society," says George Gilchrist, program director in the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Directorate for Biological Sciences, which co-funded the research with NSF's Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences.

"We know that humans have such benefits, but it took meticulous long-term research on baboon society to tease out the specific mechanisms," says Gilchrist. "The question remains of causation: Is one a society leader because of stronger immune function or vice versa?"

Although research on health and disease in animals in laboratory set-tings has been extensive, this study is one of the most comprehensive con-ducted on animals in a natural setting, the scientists say. …

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