This New York Times Magazine piece, "The Self-Medicating Animal," by Moises Velasquez-Manoff, is fascinating. Scientists have recognized for some time that animals exhibit culture, passing acquired knowledge societally and inter-generationally. This piece shows that some species also exhibit rudimentary understandings of the scientific method, experimenting with plants devoid of nutritional value that might help abate symptoms associated with various illnesses. This form of self-medication is not limited to advanced species, such as primates; even ants engage in it, although there the author speculates that the observed pattern might be more instinctive than learned and passed on. The author also speculates that some of what scientists are observing might reveal the origins of what we now think of as clinical trials.
Here's the link:
Comments are always welcome.