The baboons did not want to part with the dead cubs

Scientists have described 12 episodes, when bearish baboons for hours and days (up to ten days) wore the bodies of their own or others ‘ cubs, was combed out and kept them. Previously in the scientific literature there was only scattered information on this behavior. The authors suggest that the reason for the long separation from dead calves may be strong social or emotional bonds between the monkeys. Article published in the journal Royal Society Open Science.

Thanatology — science of death. She studies the causes and mechanisms of dying, and also how a person relates to this. While we know little about what you know about the death of animals. To answer this question by studying the reaction of different species to the death of relatives, trying the comparative thanatology. Knowledge about how animals behave in response to death can shed light on how evolved emotions and mind.

There are anecdotal descriptions of the reaction of the primates to death, and basically it is the behavior of a mother to a dead baby. Despite the fragmentation of data, it is possible to highlight General trends and build hypotheses about the causes and mechanisms of animal behavior. Repeatedly describedas female primates carry the bodies of their dead children, sometimes for weeks. There are several possible explanations for this phenomenon. The simplest interpretation — the animals don’t understandthat their baby died, or are not sure about it. So females continue to care for the offspring until they understand that this no longer make sense.

In addition, there is a hypothesis that the monkeys are using dead babies as a kind of simulator of maternal skills — in this case, females that have previously had no experience of caring for the offspring will carry the bodies longer. We can also assume that primates truly grieve, and not to part with the dead directly, to make it easier to survive the loss. Finally, there is the hypothesis of social ties: the closer was the relationship between two individuals, the brighter will be the reaction of one of them on the death of another.

Described above guesses are not mutually exclusive, however, in order to confirm an explanation of the existing data are insufficient. Scientists from the UK, USA and France under the leadership of Alicia Carter (Alecia Carter) from the University of Montpellier for more than 13 years watched bear baboons (Papio ursinus, to be) in Namibia and described 12 cases of death of the pups and the reactions of relatives.

Females carried the bodies of the cubs from one hour to ten days after their death, and in only three cases the baboons were left dead in one day. The authors found no relationship between the duration of this period and maternal age or cause of death. The circumstances were in all cases different: in one of the episodes had a miscarriage, and the other two baboons were born dead; one mother died before her son.

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