Eric's personal timeline, a place to collect and share things from Eric's life.
Created by ericmjohnson on Feb 4, 2011
Last updated: 02/06/11 at 01:29 PM
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Emperor penguins mass mourning after chicks die on Antarctic ice shelf.
Katherine A. Cronin, Edwin J.C. van Leeuwen, Innocent Chitalu Mulenga, Mark D. Bodamer (2011). "Behavioral Response of a Chimpanzee Mother Toward her Dead Infant," American Journal of Primatology, DOI: 10.1002/ajp.20927
The mother–offspring bond is one of the strongest and most essential social bonds. Following is a detailed behavioral report of a female chimpanzee 2 days after her 16-month-old infant died, on the first day that the mother is observed to create distance between her and the corpse. A series of repeated approaches and retreats to and from the body are documented, along with detailed accounts of behaviors directed toward the dead infant by the mother and other group members. The behavior of the mother toward her dead infant not only highlights the maternal contribution to the mother–infant relationship but also elucidates the opportunities chimpanzees have to learn about the sensory cues associated with death, and the implications of death for the social environment.
Peter J. Fashing, Nga Nguyen, Tyler S. Barry, C. Barret Goodale, Ryan J. Burke, Sorrel C.Z. Jones, Jeffrey T. Kerby, Laura M. Lee, Niina O. Nurmi, Vivek V. Venkataraman (2010). "Death among geladas (Theropithecus gelada): a broader perspective on mummified infants and primate thanatology," American Journal of Primatology 71, Pages 1–5.
Despite intensive study in humans, responses to dying and death have been a neglected area of research in other social mammals, including nonhuman primates. Two recent reports [Anderson JR, Gillies A, Lock LC. 2010. Pan thanatology. Current Biology 20:R349–R351; Biro D, Humle T, Koops K, Souse C, Hayashi M, Matsuzawa T. 2010. Chimpanzee mothers at Bossou, Guinea carry the mummified remains of their dead infants. Current Biology 20:R351–R352] offered exciting new insights into behavior toward dying and dead conspecifics in our closest living relatives—chimpanzees. Here, we provide a comparative perspective on primate thanatology using observations from a more distant human relative—gelada monkeys (Theropithecus gelada)—and discuss how gelada reactions to dead and dying groupmates differ from those recently reported for chimpanzees. Over a 3.75-year study period, we observed 14 female geladas at Guassa, Ethiopia carrying dead infants from 1 hr to ≥48 days after death. Dead infants were carried by their mothers, other females in their group, and even by females belonging to other groups. Like other primate populations in which extended (>10 days) infant carrying after death has been reported, geladas at Guassa experience an extreme climate for primates, creating conditions which may favor slower rates of decomposition of dead individuals. We also witnessed the events leading up to the deaths of two individuals and the responses by groupmates to these dying individuals. Our results suggest that while chimpanzee mothers are not unique among primates in carrying their dead infants for long periods, seemingly “compassionate” caretaking behavior toward dying groupmates may be unique to chimpanzees among nonhuman primates (though it remains unknown whether such “compassionate” behavior occurs outside captivity).
Dora Biro, Tatyana Humle, Kathelijne Koops, Claudia Sousa, Misato Hayashi and Tetsuro Matsuzawa (2010). "Chimpanzee mothers at Bossou, Guinea carry the mummified remains of their dead infants," Current Biology Volume 20, Issue 8, 27 Pages 351-352.
The forests surrounding Bossou, Guinea, are home to a small, semi-isolated chimpanzee community studied for over three decades. In 1992, Matsuzawa reported the death of a 2.5-year-old chimpanzee (Jokro) at Bossou from a respiratory illness. The infant's mother (Jire) carried the corpse, mummified in the weeks following death, for at least 27 days. She exhibited extensive care of the body, grooming it regularly, sharing her day- and night-nests with it, and showing distress whenever they became separated. The carrying of infants' corpses has been reported from a number of primate species, both in captivity and the wild — albeit usually lasting a few days only — suggesting a phylogenetic continuity for a behavior that is poignant testament to the close mother-infant bond which extends across different primate taxa. In this report we recount two further infant deaths at Bossou, observed over a decade after the original episode but with striking similarities.
James R. Anderson, Alasdair Gillies and Louise C. Lock (2011). "Pan thanatology," Current Biology Volume 20, Issue 8, 349-351.
Chimpanzees' immediate responses to the death of a group-member have rarely been described. Exceptions include maternal care towards dead infants, and frenzied excitement and alarm following the sudden, traumatic deaths of older individuals. Some wild chimpanzees die in their night nest, but the immediate effect this has on others is totally unknown. Here, with supporting video material, we describe the peaceful demise of an elderly female in the midst of her group. Group responses include pre-death care of the female, close inspection and testing for signs of life at the moment of death, male aggression towards the corpse, all-night attendance by the deceased's adult daughter, cleaning the corpse, and later avoidance of the place where death occurred. Without death-related symbols or rituals, chimpanzees show several behaviours that recall human responses to the death of a close relative.
The November issue of National Geographic magazine features a moving photograph of chimpanzees watching as one of their own is wheeled to her burial.
Yukimaru Sugiyama, Hiroyuki Kurita, Takeshi Matsui, Satoshi Kimoto, and Tadatoshi Shimomura (2009). "Carrying of dead infants by Japanese macaque (Macaca fuscata) mothers," Anthropological Science Vol. 117, No. 2 pp.113-119.
The quantitative and demographic features of infant-corpse-carrying behavior in Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata) at Takasakiyama, southern Japan, have been studied over 24 years. More than 91% of the dead infants that were carried by their mothers were abandoned within a week. Mothers of all age classes exhibited this behavior and neither the carrying rate (number of carriers/number of deaths) nor the duration were significantly different between young and older mothers. The sex of the infant was not a decisive factor. Nearly 80% of all cases observed involved infants that had died within 30 days of birth. The oldest infant whose corpse was observed being carried had died at 253 days. The overall carrying rate was 15% when death had occurred within 253 days and 28.7% for infants that died within 30 days of birth. Most mothers whose infants had lived for more than a month abandoned the corpse soon after death. Some females persist in exhibiting behaviors performed towards live infants but the exact reasons for this are unclear at present.
Photographs circulate of Gana, an 11-year-old gorilla in Münster Zoo, holding the lifeless body of her three-month-old infant.
Iain Douglas-Hamilton, Shivani Bhalla, George Wittemyer, and Fritz Vollrath (2006). "Behavioural reactions of elephants towards a dying and deceased matriarch," Applied Animal Behaviour Science Volume 100, Issues 1-2, October 2006, Pages 87-102.
The extent to which elephants hold behavioural traits in common with human beings is relevant to the ethics of how we treat them. Observations show that elephants, like humans, are concerned with distressed or deceased individuals, and render assistance to the ailing and show a special interest in dead bodies of their own kind. This paper reports helping and investigative behaviour of different elephants and their families towards a dying and deceased matriarch. We make use of long-term association records, GPS tracking data and direct observations. Records made around the time of death, shows that the helping behaviour and special interest exhibited was not restricted to closely related kin. The case is made that elephants, like human beings, can show compassionate behaviour to others in distress. They have a general awareness and curiosity about death, as these behaviours are directed both towards kin and non-related individuals.
Ymke Warren, Elizabeth A. Williamson (2004). "Transport of dead infant mountain gorillas by mothers and unrelated females," Zoo Biology Volume 23, Issue 4, pages 375–378.
This report describes prolonged carriage of the corpses of two mountain gorilla infants by both related and unrelated adult females. Two hypotheses regarding this transport are considered: 1) that maternal behavior toward unrelated infants may be a by-product of the hormonal condition of pregnancy, and 2) that the animals may be “learning to mother,” as nulliparous females could benefit from the experience of handling an infant that is no longer alive. Some factors pertinent to the event of infant deaths in captivity are considered.
Kazuhiko Hosaka, Akiko Matsumoto-Oda, Michael A. Huffman and Kenji Kawanaka (2000). "Reactions to Dead Bodies of Conspecifics by Wild Chimpanzees in the Mahale Mountains, Tanzania," Primate Research Vol.16 , No.1, pp.1-15.
Various reactions to dead conspecifics by Mahale chimpanzees have been observed. Reactions were classified into whether the dead conspecific was an infant or adult.
Masayuki Nakamichi, Naoki Koyama and Alison Jolly (1996). "Maternal Responses to Dead and Dying Infants in Wild Troops of Ring-Tailed Lemurs at the Berenty Reserve, Madagascar," International Journal of Primatology Volume 17, Number 4, 505-523.
We describe responses of seven mothers and other troop members to dead and dying infants in several troops of ring-tailed lemurs(Lemur catta) at the Berenty Reserve, Madagascar. In contrast to mothers in simian species, ring-tailed lemur mothers rarely carried their dying, immobile or dead infants. However, they sniffed, licked, and touched them even after they had died. While the dying infants were still peeping, their mothers remained near them, and 15 to 76 min after the infants ceased to peep, they were left by their mothers. Six of the seven mothers returned to their dead infants several times within the first few hours after they had left them. All seven mothers gave repeated calls, such as “mew” and “pyaa,” when they were separated from either their dead infants or other troop members or both. Thus, each mother exhibited some form of maternal behavior toward her dead infant for hours after its death. These results indicate that there may not be a great gap in terms of maternal affection between simian and prosimian mothers. We also discuss visuospatial memory ability in ring-tailed lemurs and the causes of the infants’ deaths.
Joel Kaplan (1973). "Responses of mother squirrel monkeys to dead infants," Primates Volume 14, Number 1, 89-91.
The responses of mother squirrel monkeys to infants were examined by testing the mothers with bodies of their own and other infants. Mothers whose infants were stillborn or died at one day of age showed strong and equivalent maternal responses to all the bodies with which they were presented, while those whose infants died after two weeks of age responded mainly to the body of their own infant. These results suggest that the female squirrel monkey becomes more selective in responding to the body of a dead infant with the passage of time after parturition. The female's post-parturient condition appears to be the prime cause for changes in her responsiveness, although other factors related to the infant's growth and development might also be important.
Dolphin Protecting Dead Young