An orangutan has been seen treating a wound with a medicinal herb.

An orangutan used a plant to treat an open wound

An orangutan used a plant to treat an open wound

Researchers say that they have observed a male Sumatran primate treating an open facial wound with a plant that is known to relieve pain.

The discovery marks the first time that an animal has been seen applying treatment to open wounds with a substance that has medicinal benefits.

Dr. Caroline Schuppli, senior author of the research at the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behaviour in Germany, said: "In this chimpanzee case they used insects and unfortunately it was never found out whether these insects really promote wound healing.

"Whereas in our case, the orangutan used the plant, and this plant has known medical properties."

The experts say that their findings offer information about the origins of human wound care - which was first mentioned in a medical manuscript dating back to 2200 BC.

Dr. Schuppli said: "It definitely shows that these basic cognitive capacities that you need to come up with a behaviour like this... were present at the time of our last common ancestor most likely.

"So that reaches back very, very far."