Using ants as sutures

August 9th, 2009 | by Nick |

In some cultures, ants and beetles have been used as natural, emergency sutures, and in fact this ancient method can be seen as the predecessor of modern wound clamping.

The ancient Indian Sanskrit text on surger, Sushruta Samhita, contains methods of skin suture, including a description of how insects have been applied in the healing of wounds.

. . large black ants should be applied even to the perforated intestines . . . and their bodies should be separated from their heads after they had firmly bitten the perforated parts with their claws [jaws]. After that the intestines with the head of the ants attached to them should be gently pushed back into the cavity and reinstated in their original situation therein. Here

In East Africa, the remarkable strength of the jaws of siafu or army ants are used by the Maasai when they suffer a gash in the bush. They collect these ants and provoke them to bite on both sides of the gash. Then they break off the body, leaving the head and jaws clamped around the would, and hey presto!, they have a suture. The seal can hold for days at a time.

The ant suture technique is also found in South America.

The mandibles from the Eciton burchell are particularly large. Its mandibles would close on the wound and the body would then be pinched off. Contemporary clips work according to the same principles but the ‘ant-method’ is still practised by some South American tribes. Gottrup, F. & David Leaper (2004). “Wound healing: historical aspects

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