The authors of a study called High Frequency of Postcoital Penis Cleaning in Budongo Chimpanzees do not beat about the bush. “We report on postcoital penis cleaning in chimpanzees,” they write. “In penis cleaning, leaves are employed as ‘napkins’ to wipe clean the penis after sex. Alternatively, the same cleaning motion can be done without leaves, simply using the fingers. Not all chimpanzee communities studied across Africa clean their penes and, where documented, the behaviour is rare. By contrast, we identify postcoital penis cleaning in Budongo Forest, Uganda, as customary.”
Sean O’Hara, a Durham University anthropologist (who has since moved to the University of Salford), and Phyllis Lee, a psychology professor at the University of Stirling, published their monograph in the journal Folia Primatologica, in 2006.
They list the few instances in which humans had documented the practice. Jane Goodall [pictured here] “mentions it in the Gombe chimpanzees, Tanzania”…
So begins this week’s Improbable Research column in The Guardian.