Do Great Apes Have Subcutaneous Fat?

The great apes are a group of primates that includes gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos, and orangutans. These species share many similarities with humans, both in terms of their physical characteristics and behavior.

One question that has been raised about the great apes is whether they have subcutaneous fat, like humans do. Subcutaneous fat is the layer of adipose tissue located beneath the skin. It serves as an energy reserve for the body and provides insulation against cold temperatures.

In humans, excessive subcutaneous fat can lead to health problems such as obesity and diabetes. Understanding whether or not great apes possess this type of fat could shed light on their evolutionary history and provide insights into how they survive in their natural habitats.

The Great Apes: An Overview

Great apes are a group of primates that belong to the family Hominidae which includes chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans and humans. These intelligent animals share many characteristics with humans such as complex social behavior, tool use and communication through language. Great apes can be found in Africa and Southeast Asia where they inhabit forests, woodlands and swamps.

Despite their remarkable abilities and human-like qualities, great apes face numerous threats including habitat loss, poaching and disease. Their natural habitats have been destroyed due to deforestation caused by logging, mining and agriculture. As a result, these species have become endangered with some populations facing extinction.

Conservation efforts have been implemented to protect great ape populations from further decline. This includes creating protected areas for them to live safely in addition to educating local communities on sustainable practices that do not harm the environment or its inhabitants. In order to ensure the survival of these incredible creatures, it is crucial that we continue to support conservation initiatives.

Subcutaneous fat is an important aspect of great ape physiology as it plays a key role in thermoregulation and energy storage. Understanding how this fat functions within their bodies can help us better understand how they adapt to changing environments and inform conservation strategies aimed at protecting their habitats.

The Importance Of Subcutaneous Fat

Subcutaneous fat is the layer of adipose tissue found directly beneath the skin. Despite being often considered just a cosmetic issue, subcutaneous fat plays an important role in regulating body temperature and providing insulation to protect against cold temperatures.

Humans are known for having a significant amount of subcutaneous fat compared to other primates, but do great apes have subcutaneous fat as well? Recent studies suggest that great apes, including chimpanzees and orangutans, do indeed possess subcutaneous fat. However, the composition and distribution of this type of adipose tissue may vary depending on diet and environmental factors.

For example, captive great apes who consume high-calorie diets tend to have more subcutaneous fat than their wild counterparts who typically rely on lower calorie foods. The role of subcutaneous fat in regulating body temperature cannot be overlooked. In colder climates, it acts as an insulator to keep the animal warm by trapping heat close to the body’s core.

In contrast, during warmer weather conditions, animals can regulate their body temperature by dissipating excess heat via vasodilation (increased blood flow) through superficial vessels located near the surface of the skin. In summary, while humans may have more visible subcutaneous fat due to our sedentary lifestyles and higher caloric intake; great apes also possess this type of adipose tissue which plays an essential role in thermoregulation.

The impact of diet on subcutaneous fat composition in great apes suggests that lifestyle changes could alter its distribution within these animals’ bodies. The following section will delve further into the anatomy of great apes and how it relates to their physical abilities and behavior patterns.

The Anatomy Of Great Apes

Great apes, also known as hominids, are a group of primates that includes orangutans, gorillas, chimpanzees, and humans. These animals share many anatomical features but differ in size, shape, and appearance. One aspect that sets them apart is their subcutaneous fat distribution.

Unlike other mammals such as rodents or carnivores, great apes have a unique pattern of adipose tissue function. Subcutaneous fat distribution varies among ape species depending on age, sex, and reproductive status.

For example, adult male gorillas accumulate large amounts of subcutaneous fat around the abdomen to help protect vital organs during fights with rival males. In contrast, female orangutans store most of their body fat subdermally under the skin to support lactation and pregnancy.

Adipose tissue function plays an essential role in regulating energy balance and maintaining homeostasis in great apes. This type of connective tissue serves not only as an energy reservoir but also as an endocrine organ that secretes hormones involved in metabolic regulation. Moreover, adipocytes can influence immune responses by releasing cytokines that modulate inflammation and immunity.

In summary, great apes possess unique patterns of subcutaneous fat distribution that reflect differences in evolutionary history and ecological adaptations. Understanding the anatomy and physiology of adipose tissue in these animals provides insights into their biology and health status.

The next section will explore further differences between human and ape adipose tissue regarding morphology and metabolism.

Differences Between Human And Ape Adipose Tissue

The Anatomy of Great Apes provides insight into the unique features that distinguish these primates from other animals. One such feature is their subcutaneous fat deposition, which is a layer of adipose tissue located beneath the skin.

Comparative analysis has revealed significant differences in the distribution and amount of subcutaneous fat between humans and great apes. While humans have a thicker layer of subcutaneous fat compared to most great apes, they exhibit regional variations in adipose tissue accumulation. Unlike humans who deposit more subcutaneous fat around their waistline, great apes tend to store this type of fat near their shoulders and hips. This difference can be attributed to the distinct evolutionary histories of both species.

The varying patterns of subcutaneous fat deposition in humans and great apes highlight how even small morphological changes can result in significant functional differences. For instance, some researchers suggest that human-specific adaptations for bipedalism required increased amounts of subcutaneous fat for thermoregulation purposes. Conversely, because great apes are quadrupeds with fur covering most parts of their body, they do not require as much insulation provided by subcutaneous fat as humans do.

In summary, understanding the differences between human and ape adipose tissue requires comparative analysis across multiple anatomical structures. The pattern of subcutaneous fat deposition varies significantly between these two groups due to divergent evolutionary paths over millions of years. These findings highlight the importance of considering both anatomy and evolution when studying primate biology.

The Evolutionary History Of Great Apes

The evolutionary history of great apes is a fascinating subject that has captured the attention of many primate researchers. The study of human evolution, in particular, provides important insights into how our species evolved over time and what factors influenced this process. One area of interest within this field is primate morphology, which examines the physical characteristics of primates and their relationship to environmental pressures.

When it comes to great apes specifically, there are several key features that distinguish them from other primates. These include their large body size, lack of tails, and complex social structures. However, one aspect that is often overlooked is subcutaneous fat.

While humans have a relatively high amount of subcutaneous fat compared to other primates, it was previously thought that great apes did not possess this tissue layer at all. Recent research has challenged this assumption by demonstrating that certain species of great apes do indeed have subcutaneous fat deposits.

For example, studies on orangutans have shown that these animals store fat primarily in their abdominal region as a means of surviving periods when food availability is low. Similarly, chimpanzees also exhibit greater amounts of subcutaneous fat during times when resources are scarce.

The role of subcutaneous fat in great ape survival is an intriguing topic for further exploration. By understanding how these animals utilize stored energy reserves during lean times or periods of increased activity levels, researchers may be able to shed light on how ancient hominids were able to survive similar ecological challenges throughout human evolution.

In addition, continued investigation into the distribution and function of subcutaneous fat in different primate species could provide valuable information about the physiological adaptations necessary for life in various environments around the world.

The Role Of Subcutaneous Fat In Great Ape Survival

Great apes, like all primates, have subcutaneous fat. This is the layer of tissue that lies just under their skin and provides insulation against cold temperatures.

In addition to its role in thermoregulation, subcutaneous fat also plays a critical role in great ape survival by impacting reproductive success. Research has shown that female great apes with higher levels of subcutaneous fat are more likely to conceive and carry healthy offspring to term. This is because subcutaneous fat helps regulate hormone levels necessary for reproduction. It also serves as an energy reserve during gestation and lactation when food may be scarce.

In contrast, male great apes with too much or too little subcutaneous fat may experience reduced fertility due to changes in testosterone production. However, this can vary depending on the species of great ape and environmental factors such as diet and physical activity.

Overall, while the specific impact of subcutaneous fat on great ape survival varies between sexes and species, it is clear that this adipose tissue plays a significant role in their ability to reproduce successfully and adapt to changing environmental conditions.

  • Great apes with higher levels of subcutaneous fat are better able to regulate hormone levels crucial for reproduction.
  • Subcutaneous fat serves as an important energy reserve during periods of low food availability.
  • Male great apes may experience changes in testosterone production if they have too much or too little subcutaneous fat.
  • The relationship between subcutaneous fat and reproductive success can vary based on species-specific differences.
  • Environmental factors such as diet and physical activity can influence how subcutaneous fat impacts great ape survival.

Moving forward, research on great ape adipose tissue will continue to shed light on the complex interplay between physiology, behavior, and environment that shapes primate evolution. By understanding the importance of subcutaneous fat in great ape survival, we can better design conservation strategies aimed at protecting these intelligent and remarkable animals.

Research On Great Ape Adipose Tissue

The Role of Subcutaneous Fat in Great Ape Survival has been widely studied over the years. Comparative analysis shows that subcutaneous fat distribution varies according to different ecological and physiological factors, such as age, sex, seasonality, food availability, and thermoregulation needs. In general, great apes exhibit low levels of adiposity compared to humans or other primates due to their natural diet and active lifestyle.

Research on Great Ape Adipose Tissue has revealed interesting insights into the biology and evolution of these intelligent animals. For instance, studies have shown that gorillas tend to accumulate more subcutaneous fat than chimpanzees or orangutans; this may be related to their larger body size and slower metabolism. Moreover, it appears that female gorillas store more fat around their hips and thighs than males do, possibly as a strategy for reproductive success.

However, the exact functions and implications of subcutaneous fat in great apes are still not fully understood. Some researchers suggest that it may serve as insulation against cold temperatures or protect vital organs from physical damage during fights or falls. Others propose that it could provide energy reserves during lean periods when food is scarce or help regulate hormonal balances involved in reproduction or immune responses.

Overall, the study of subcutaneous fat in great apes offers an intriguing perspective on how these fascinating creatures adapt to their environments and cope with various challenges.

As we continue to explore this topic further using advanced technologies such as imaging techniques or molecular analyses, we may gain new insights into the complex interplay between genetics, environment, behavior, and physiology in shaping primate diversity and survival strategies.

Gorillas And Subcutaneous Fat

Gorilla obesity has been a topic of interest for researchers, as it can lead to health problems in these animals. One factor that contributes to gorilla obesity is subcutaneous fat deposition.

Subcutaneous fat refers to the layer of adipose tissue underneath the skin, which serves as an energy reserve and insulation for the body.

Studies have shown that wild gorillas tend to have higher levels of subcutaneous fat compared to captive individuals. This may be due to differences in diet and activity level between the two groups.

Wild gorillas consume a variety of fruits, leaves, and other vegetation, while captive gorillas are often fed a more limited diet consisting of mostly fruit and vegetables. In addition, wild gorillas engage in more physical activity than their captive counterparts, which may help regulate their weight.

However, excessive subcutaneous fat deposition can still occur in both wild and captive gorillas if they consume too many high-calorie foods or lack sufficient exercise. Obesity can lead to numerous health problems such as cardiovascular disease, arthritis, and diabetes.

Understanding how subcutaneous fat accumulation affects gorillas can provide insights into human health as well. Gorillas share many physiological similarities with humans, including similar responses to dietary changes and metabolic disorders such as insulin resistance.

Therefore, studying the relationship between subcutaneous fat deposition and health in gorillas could offer valuable information on how excess adipose tissue impacts human physiology.

Next up: Chimpanzees and Subcutaneous Fat

Chimpanzees And Subcutaneous Fat

The subcutaneous fat distribution in great apes is a topic of interest among scientists. Chimpanzees, the closest living relatives to humans, have been studied extensively for their physical similarities to us. One aspect that has garnered attention is whether or not they possess subcutaneous fat.

This type of adipose tissue lies just under the skin and provides insulation against cold temperatures. Recent studies have shown that chimpanzees do indeed have subcutaneous fat, but it differs from human fat distribution patterns. In humans, women tend to store more subcutaneous fat than men, particularly around the hips and thighs. However, in chimpanzees, gender does not seem to play as significant a role in where this fat is stored. Instead, researchers believe that diet may be a factor.

Chimpanzee diets consist mostly of fruit and leaves with occasional insects or small mammals thrown into the mix. Their consumption of high fiber foods could lead to greater storage of subcutaneous fat since fiber slows down digestion and promotes feelings of fullness. Additionally, because chimpanzees are active throughout the day with frequent bouts of climbing and swinging through trees, storing energy as subcutaneous fat may provide an efficient source of fuel.

Overall, while there are some differences between human and chimpanzee subcutaneous fat distribution patterns, these findings suggest that both species utilize this form of adipose tissue for similar reasons: thermoregulation and energy storage. The next section will explore if bonobos share similar characteristics regarding subcutaneous fat storage.

As we move forward into examining bonobos’ potential possession of subcutaneous fat tissue like their chimpanzee counterparts, it’s important to note that each great ape species possesses unique traits that contribute to its overall health profile.

Bonobos And Subcutaneous Fat

Bonobos are one of the four great ape species and are known for their peaceful behavior, social intelligence, and close genetic relationship to humans. Apart from these characteristics, they also share a similar metabolic anatomy with humans that makes them prone to obesity. Recent studies have shown that bonobos can develop obesity due to the consumption of high-fat diets in captivity.

Subcutaneous fat distribution is an important aspect of body composition that influences health outcomes such as insulin resistance, cardiovascular disease risk, and inflammation. In bonobos, subcutaneous adipose tissue accumulates primarily in the abdominal region rather than in other locations such as the gluteal or femoral regions seen in humans. This difference may indicate different evolutionary adaptations to food availability between bonobos and humans.

Bonobo obesity has become a growing concern among researchers since it affects their overall well-being and longevity. Some captive facilities have implemented dietary changes and exercise regimes to prevent excessive weight gain in this species. However, more research is needed on how diet quality impacts subcutaneous fat deposition patterns among wild populations of bonobos.

Moving forward, understanding subcutaneous fat distribution among different primate species will be crucial for developing appropriate conservation strategies for endangered apes.

The next section will explore orangutans’ subcutaneous fat distribution and compare it with other great apes to understand better how evolution shapes differences in body composition across primates.

Orangutans And Subcutaneous Fat

Orangutans, the largest arboreal mammals on Earth, are known for their slow metabolism due to their low-energy diet of fruit and leaves. However, despite this dietary limitation, orangutans have been found to possess a significant amount of subcutaneous fat. This raises questions about its function in thermoregulation and how it compares with other great apes.

The presence of subcutaneous fat in orangutans helps them maintain body temperature during times when environmental temperatures drop below their thermal neutral zone. Given that they live in tropical rainforests where temperatures can fluctuate drastically between day and night, having an insulating layer of fat is crucial for survival. The distribution of this fat differs from humans as well; instead of being evenly distributed throughout the body, it is concentrated around the neck region.

Interestingly enough, there seems to be some variation in the thickness of subcutaneous fat among different populations of wild orangutans based on their diets. For example, those living in areas high in fatty fruits like durian tend to have thicker layers than those who consume more fibrous foods like bark or insects. This suggests that subcutaneous fat may play a role beyond just insulation but also as an energy storage mechanism for future periods of food scarcity.

Overall, while all great apes share similarities in terms of general anatomy and physiology, there exists notable interspecies variation when it comes to subcutaneous fat deposition. Understanding these differences not only sheds light on evolutionary adaptations but also has important implications for human health research related to obesity and metabolic disorders.

Comparing great ape subcutaneous fat to other primates will reveal even more insights into how evolution shaped adipose tissue deposition across species with differing ecological niches and dietary habits.

Comparing Great Ape Subcutaneous Fat To Other Primates

Orangutans, like other great apes, have been found to possess subcutaneous fat. However, the distribution and amount of this adipose tissue vary across different species of great apes. For instance, orangutans are known to store more subcutaneous fat than chimpanzees or gorillas. The reason for these differences is not yet fully understood but may be associated with ecological factors such as food availability and climate.

Comparing great ape subcutaneous fat to that of humans reveals some similarities and differences. Both humans and great apes store subcutaneous fat in similar locations around the body. However, human subcutaneous fat tends to be distributed differently between males and females compared to most great ape species where there are no significant sex differences in adipose tissue distribution. Additionally, while both humans and great apes accumulate excess amounts of subcutaneous fat when consuming a high-calorie diet, only humans tend to develop obesity-related health conditions such as cardiovascular diseases.

Ecological factors play an essential role in shaping the evolution of great ape adipose tissue. Changes in habitat quality can significantly impact the amount of energy available for consumption by primates leading to changes in their metabolic physiology including how they regulate their body weight through storing or utilizing adipose tissue reserves. This phenomenon has been observed among captive primates who often exhibit higher levels of adiposity due to reduced physical activity levels compared to those living wild populations.

The potential health implications of great ape adipose tissue are still being investigated. As mentioned earlier, unlike humans who develop various health complications linked with excessive accumulation of adipose tissue over time, little research exists on whether overweight or obese individuals within non-human primate populations also experience negative effects on their overall well-being. Nonetheless, studying the relationship between ecological variables and patterns of adiposity among different primate species could provide insights into understanding mechanisms underlying metabolic disorders and informing conservation efforts aimed at preserving endangered primate populations.

Potential Health Implications Of Great Ape Adipose Tissue

Adipose tissue is a significant component of the body composition of great apes, as it provides energy storage and insulation against cold temperatures. While subcutaneous fat serves as an essential source of energy for these animals during periods of low food availability, excessive adiposity can also pose potential health risks.

High levels of adipose tissue have been linked to increased susceptibility to cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and other metabolic disorders in humans. In contrast to humans, however, wild great apes rarely experience obesity or associated comorbidities unless they are captive individuals with access to high-calorie diets.

Nevertheless, conservation implications arise from the challenges that captive great apes face due to their unique lifestyles compared to those living in natural habitats. For instance, some studies suggest that overweight captive primates may exhibit abnormal behaviors such as self-injurious behavior or decreased mobility due to musculoskeletal issues. Moreover, changes in habitat quality and diet may also affect wild ape populations’ health by influencing their adiposity levels.

For example, fragmented forests or areas where human activities cause deforestation could limit the availability of certain types of fruit and other resources needed for optimal nutrition among these animals. Future research investigating how environmental factors influence great ape metabolism could shed light on potential interventions aimed at reducing negative impacts on primate fitness and survival.

Overall, understanding the potential health implications of great ape adipose tissue has important implications for both captive animal welfare and wild population management. By identifying ways to promote healthy weight maintenance among these species through improved diets and habitat preservation efforts, we might be able to reduce the prevalence of chronic diseases while also contributing towards long-term conservation goals focused on preserving biodiversity across various ecosystems worldwide.

Future Research Directions

The study of adipose tissue in great apes is still in its nascent stage. The previous section discussed the distribution and amount of subcutaneous fat in these primates; however, there are several avenues for future research that can provide a deeper understanding of adipose tissue measurement and subcutaneous fat distribution.

One such direction for future research could be to investigate whether great apes exhibit regional differences in their subcutaneous fat distribution similar to humans.

It would also be interesting to explore the relationship between body mass index (BMI) and subcutaneous fat content in great apes as it has been done extensively in human studies.

Another area for further exploration is the impact of diet on adipose tissue deposition among different species of great apes. This will require detailed dietary records from zoos or field observations where food availability varies across locations.

Lastly, an exciting avenue for future research is investigating how evolutionary biology plays a role in shaping the distribution and quantity of adipose tissue among great ape populations. Such analysis could help unravel the selective pressures driving adaptive changes related to energy storage mechanisms over time.

In conclusion, further investigation into adipose tissue measurement and subcutaneous fat distribution among great apes presents exciting opportunities for researchers seeking a better understanding of primate physiology, evolution, and health. By exploring various aspects related to this topic, we may gain insights into fundamental questions about hominoid ecology, anatomy, behavior, metabolism, and more.

Conclusion: Great Ape Adipose Tissue And Evolutionary Biology

The presence of subcutaneous adipose tissue in great apes has evolutionary significance. Research suggests that the increase in body fat may have played a critical role in human evolution, aiding in brain development and enhancing survival rates during times of food scarcity.

While great apes share many physiological similarities with humans, there are certain differences, such as their lack of significant amounts of subcutaneous fat. However, despite the differences between humans and great apes, understanding the distribution and function of adipose tissue in these animals can provide valuable insights into their biology and behavior.

For example, studies on chimpanzees indicate that they exhibit seasonal changes in body weight and fat storage, which may be linked to fluctuations in food availability. This knowledge could have important conservation implications for endangered species like orangutans or gorillas, where habitat loss is reducing access to essential resources.

In conclusion, research on great ape adipose tissue contributes to our understanding of primate physiology and evolution. The presence or absence of subcutaneous fat appears to play an important role not only in energy balance but also in other aspects of health and well-being. Additionally, studying adipose tissue dynamics among different populations can help us identify patterns related to diet, activity levels, and environmental factors that ultimately influence the health status of these animals.

Therefore, further investigation into this area could contribute significantly to both evolutionary biology and wildlife conservation efforts.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do Great Apes Regulate Their Body Temperature?

Great apes rely on various thermoregulation mechanisms to maintain their body temperature in different environmental conditions. These include behavioral and physiological adaptations, such as seeking shade or water when it is hot, shivering or increasing metabolism when it is cold, and sweating or panting to dissipate heat through evaporative cooling.

Fat storage strategies may also play a role in regulating body temperature by providing insulation against the cold or serving as an energy reserve during periods of food scarcity. While subcutaneous fat has been observed in some great ape species, its exact function remains unclear, and more research is needed to fully understand the relationship between fat storage and thermoregulation in these animals.

What Is The Lifespan Of Great Apes In The Wild?

Great apes exhibit lifespan variations due to their unique ecological niches and social behaviors.

For instance, chimpanzees have a life expectancy of 35-45 years in the wild, while orangutans can live up to 50 years or more.

These differences are partly attributed to survival strategies such as tool use, foraging efficiency, and predator avoidance.

Additionally, environmental factors like habitat loss and poaching also impact great ape populations and their health outcomes.

Understanding these complex dynamics is crucial for designing effective conservation measures that ensure the long-term viability of these charismatic species.

How Do Great Apes Communicate With Each Other?

Great apes, such as chimpanzees and gorillas, communicate with each other through various means of social dynamics.

One notable method is vocalizations which are used to convey a wide range of messages including aggression, affection, and food availability. These vocalizations can be loud and boisterous or quiet and subtle depending on the situation at hand.

Furthermore, great ape communication also involves body language such as facial expressions, gestures, and postures which add nuance to their interactions.

Overall, understanding how great apes communicate with each other sheds light on their complex social relationships and provides insight into the evolution of human communication.

What Is The Nutritional Value Of The Foods That Great Apes Eat?

The nutritional composition of the foods that great apes eat varies depending on their habitat and dietary preferences.

For example, mountain gorillas primarily consume fibrous vegetation such as leaves, stems, and shoots which contain high levels of fiber but relatively low amounts of protein and fat.

Alternatively, chimpanzees have a more diverse diet consisting of fruits, nuts, seeds, insects, and occasionally meat which provides them with higher levels of energy-dense macronutrients like carbohydrates and fats.

Despite these differences in nutrient availability, all great apes possess specialized digestive processes that allow for efficient extraction of nutrients from their food sources.

These include an enlarged cecum to ferment plant-based fibers into short-chain fatty acids and large intestinal villi to increase surface area for absorption.

Overall, understanding the nutritional needs and adaptations of great apes can provide insight into their ecology and evolution.

How Do Great Apes Adapt To Changes In Their Environment?

Great apes are known for their adaptive mechanisms to changes in the environment. One of these mechanisms includes their fat storage capabilities, which allows them to survive during periods of food scarcity.

Due to their primarily herbivorous diet, great apes have lower levels of subcutaneous fat compared to carnivores. However, they are able to store fat within their abdominal cavity and around vital organs as a means of survival.

This adaptation is essential for their survival in times when food sources may be limited or scarce due to seasonal changes or other environmental factors.


Great apes, which include chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans among others, are known for their intelligence, social complexity, and physical strength. They are also adapted to living in a variety of environments with different temperature and food availability.

To regulate their body temperature, great apes use various mechanisms such as sweating or huddling together. Their lifespan varies depending on the species but can range from 30 to over 50 years in the wild.

Great apes communicate with each other through vocalizations, gestures, facial expressions, and even tool use. These communication methods allow them to establish relationships and cooperate in activities like hunting or defending themselves against predators.

The nutritional value of their diet is high in fiber and low in fat compared to human diets. Great apes adapt to changes in their environment by using behavioral flexibility that allows them to learn new skills and strategies for survival.

In conclusion, although many aspects of great ape biology remain unknown, research has shown us that they have unique adaptations that enable them to live successfully in their natural habitats. Understanding these adaptations may provide insight into how humans evolved and adapted throughout history.

With continued research efforts focused on great ape biology and behavior we will be able to gain further understanding about our own evolutionary paths as well as contribute valuable information towards conservation efforts aimed at preserving these highly intelligent animals for future generations.

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