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How chimps mourn their dead
A touching video of an ape mourning her dead infant reveals that some simians grieve the way humans do
A mother chimp watches the 16-month-old child and occasionally prods it to see if it is really dead.
A mother chimp watches the 16-month-old child and occasionally prods it to see if it is really dead.
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T

he video: A video showing how a chimpanzee responds to the death of her 16-month-old baby provides a fresh and moving glimpse at "just how similar chimps and other great apes are to humans," says The Telegraph. As part of a study exploring how the simians cope with mortality, four researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics videotaped the chimpanzee mother as she processed her loss. In the video, shot at a Zambian wildlife orphanage, the mother carries the body for a full 24 hours after the infant's death. She then lays it on the ground, watches it from a distance, prods it to verify that it is lifeless, and consults a group of other chimpanzees for "a second opinion." A day later, she abandons the body and moves on.
The reaction:
Scientists have known for some time that "chimpanzee mothers establish close physical relationships with their young, carrying them for up to two years and nursing them until they are 6," says The Daily Mail. But this latest look at how chimps process death, in the words of study leader Katherine Cronin, provides  "unique insights" into "one of humans' closest primate relatives." Professor Mark Bodamer, who contributed to the study, tells The Telegraph that the findings will "contribute to a small but growing body of data on how non-human primates" learn about and respond to death. "Whether a viewer ultimately decides that the chimpanzee is mourning, or simply curious about the corpse," Cronin says, "is not nearly as important as people taking a moment to consider the possibilities." Watch the grieving chimpanzee below:

 

 

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