Sunday, May 6, 2007

Animal Funerals

Some biologists have described behavior reactions as "funeral behaviors" although their function is unexplained since their discovery in 1972.

When a Yellow-billed Magpie dies, other magpies may descend on the carcass, hopping and making loud squawking noises for prolonged periods. Could they be expressing grief? Because rarely observed, research has not progressed on this subject.

African elephants take a strong interest in corpses, bawling around them, touching them with their trunks, burying them with tree branches, picking up bones and tusks, and even passing bones to other elephants, or taking them with them when they leave the area.

Chimpanzes are also known to respond to death much like humans by crying out for prolonged periods.

One thing evident is that these "funerals" seem to occur in species that live in groups.

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