According to foreign media reports, whenever there is an animal silently “mourning” for the dead, it will attract our attention. In August last year, a small killer whale died on the beach of Vancouver Island, and its mother took the child’s body around and spent the same 17 days. Two years ago, in the Chiffield Wildlife Sanctuary in Zambia, a female chimpanzee named Noel tried to clean the dead son, Thomas, which many called a “burial ceremony.” Elephants also regularly visit the remains of deceased family members, sometimes tapping their cheekbones, sometimes squatting around, as if they were “watching the night.”
One of the most dramatic events witnessed by British zoologist Jane Goodall in 1972: a young male chimpanzee named Flint went away just a month after her mother’s death. After the mother’s death, the chimpanzee fell into a huge sorrow, no longer eating, and no longer socialized until she died.
Whether or not it dies because of “heartbreak”, there is no doubt that love and sorrow are not unique to humans, and these emotions are also prevalent in other animals.
Darwin also believes that other animals can also produce emotions such as happiness and pain. As early as the 1st century AD, the Roman writer Pliny the Elder recorded the elephant’s mourning for the same kind of behavior. But for most of the past two centuries, scientists and philosophers have been reluctant to describe the behavior of animals to the dead, as “mourning,” because they fear that this is the practice of anthropomorphizing animals, forcing them to Human characteristics, emotions or intentions are attached to the animal.
Scientists have put forward a set of criteria: “If an animal begins to repel socially, is unwilling to eat, and wanders on a regular basis after the recent death of a close-knit animal, and shows signs of specific emotions of the species, this is widespread, Animals show evidence of emotional response to death.”
In recent decades, there has been increasing scientific evidence that sadness and mourning are also present in other species. The British Royal Society of Philosophy Journal has published a special journal on animal and human death, proposing a new field of research: evolutionary thanatology, the ultimate goal of this activity is not only to give Classification of the range of behaviors in animals and human cultures, and also hopes to “provide clearer, straightforward, evolutionary considerations for all sides of death and dying research.”
After all, if we say, “If you don’t consider evolution, everything in biology will be meaningless.” We must ask a question: What is the meaning of sorrow?
When mourning for the same kind, animal and human behavior can be described as unfavorable for survival: isolation, refusal to socialize, reduced sleep, unwillingness to eat, refusal to hunt, resistance to mating… In addition, if you stay in the body for too long, It is also vulnerable to attack by pathogens and natural enemies. As far as human culture is concerned, the more land we invest in building a cemetery, the more time and money we spend on funerals, the more painful the loss is, and the more grief is fascinating. This is very confusing.
Are animals really sad? Love and sorrow are not unique to human beings
Scientists believe that crows will show a “dangerous response” to dead crows.
What can we get from sorrow?
A particular life experience can cause pain, but it is not the result of poor adaptation. When we are cut or burned, the pain we feel is an evolutionary response that reminds us of the source of pain. Pain is useful, and people who are naturally insensitive to pain often do not live long and are always injured or infected. Yes, pain is useful, but what do we get from grief? What are the benefits of being isolated from the world, not eating or sleeping?
From this perspective, understanding when, why, and how animals respond to death not only allows us to better understand the animal’s feelings or our own evolutionary process, but also helps us understand the phenomenon of sadness itself.
Mourning is not limited to cetaceans (whales and dolphins) and primates with larger brains. Scientists have observed some forms in animals such as seals, manatees, dingoes, horses, dogs, domestic cats and other animals. Death reaction.” Some examples are particularly striking. For example, there were 27 adult giraffes who watched the night of a dead giraffe cub. Elephants from five different families visited the remains of a dead elephant. 15 dolphins slowed down and escorted a band. The dolphins mother who died of her baby. Two other ducks rescued from a foie gras farm have formed a deep friendship in the shelter. After one of the ducks died, the other one put his head on the neck of the dead friend and stayed for several hours.
Although the stories of these mammals often become headlines, non-mammals respond to death, and the duck just mentioned is one such example.
We don’t want to rely solely on anecdotes, but we want to conduct experimental research to understand the adaptive value of animals responding to similar deaths. Scientists have tested the crows for dead crows, pigeons, and squirrels in the nearby environment. The reaction, compared to dead pigeons, dead squirrels, or fake crows that are lifelike, crows are more likely to issue warnings when they discover dead crows, and bring other birds together. This is in line with the speculation that the crow will make a “dangerous reaction” to the dead crow.
Although it may seem strange, in primates, it is a very common behavior to bring the bodies of young cubs around. Many primates will bring dead cubs around for weeks, even months.
It is valuable to pay more attention to the death of the same kind. This can tell you how you might die so that you can avoid these dangerous factors and understand the origin of this behavior in order to better understand the evolutionary process of human beings. And development also has great value.
From this point of view, understanding the causes of animal mourning can also help us understand human grief. Our response to death has many similarities to animals. For example, animals, like humans, respond differently to death. This will vary from individual to individual and from species to species. In general, the higher the sociality of a species, the more likely it is to show so-called sadness. In addition, the more intimate the relationship between the two individuals, the higher the likelihood that one of them will produce sadness.
For example, dolphins and whales are highly developed and highly social animals, so it is not surprising that they show concern for the dead in the group (often the mother’s death to the cub). This behavior is not limited to swimming with the body (like the killer whale mentioned at the beginning of the article), but also a more subconscious, more dynamic behavior, such as lifting the body out of the water (just like trying to help it breathe) The same), dragging, shaking the body, and dive with the body and so on.
Dr. Joan Gon Salvo, of the Ionian project sponsored by the Tethys Institute, witnessed three times the bottlenose dolphins took care of the dead cubs. Two of them were dolphins mothers who had traveled with their dead cubs for several days, and once again the whole group of dolphins tried to make a dying dolphins cubs float on the water, and after they died and sank into the sea, they I stayed in the same place for a while and left.
“Sadness is actually caused by the inability to accept the loss,” he pointed out. “So I guess, these dolphins mothers will bring the dead cubs around for a few days because these little dolphins were just born and they died. Too sudden and unprepared, so the mother needs more time to grieve. But this group of dolphins has tried to take care of the dolphins for a while, and to a certain extent, it is a kind of relief, so they are in it. I left on the day of my death and did not leave it there.”
Although it may seem strange, in primates, it is a very common behavior to bring the bodies of young cubs around. Many primates will bring dead cubs around for weeks, even months. In extreme cases, mothers will always carry the cubs around until the body is completely mummy under the influence of temperature. Even the skeleton or spine is left.
But this is just one of the possible responses of primates to death. In addition, they may also come into physical contact with the body, such as grooming the hair, cleaning the teeth, gently touching the body, etc., even There will be more ferocious behaviors, such as pulling hair and even swallowing bodies.
“I have seen extremely gentle and meticulous moves, but in other cases, male chimpanzees may also be very aggressive.” Professor Jin pointed out that she had observed chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas and other primates. Animals for many years, “Like humans, the performance of animals depends on the individual’s personality and friendship.”
Dr. Edwin Van Levine of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics is most interested in the social behavior of chimpanzees. He recorded that the chimpanzee Noel had tried to clean his teeth for the adopted son Thomas (this behavior is very rare, has never been seen before), and the motivation for this behavior may be explained by social dynamics.
“I think she wants to express her social connection with Thomas by doing something to Thomas’s body.” Dr. Levin pointed out that “death is the most serious social event that can occur in social species. For example, When a more mature and older individual dies, the social connection between each individual needs to be reshaped. Or when a mother’s child is broken, the whole population will express concern to it. This is society. A form of cohesion. In mammals that are vital to survival in society (such as humans themselves), there is often the ability to express strong emotions about death.”
Dr. Dora Biro of Oxford University has twice observed the behavior of chimpanzees responding to death. She believes that the meaning of this behavior is even deeper. “From a development perspective, children often take a long time to fully accept the concept of death. This understanding is not innate, but acquired through experience.” Biro said.
Psychologists suggest that death has four basic elements: irreversibility, non-functionality (the deceased does not respond to anything), causality (the biological cause of death), and universality: but everything that has life There is a death, and you are no exception.
“When and in what order do we get these elements?” Dr. Biro asked. “If we can understand the extent to which other animals have these elements, we can help us better understand the evolutionary origins of human cognition. “”
If we can observe sad emotions in highly socialized animals and have a higher probability of being observed in individuals with intimate social relationships, it means that sorrow is indeed an animal evolution, “to accept the ‘lost’ The reaction of a concept. Both smart animals and humans need time to accept this. Or use the words of a layman: sadness is the price we pay for love. There are indications from archaeological sites that humans began to smear the body of the deceased with ochre as early as 100,000 years ago. In addition, various civilizations around the world have evolved complex rituals, from funerals to cemeteries to elaborately decorated coffins, pyramids, and more. The Torahs who live in Indonesia will live together for a few weeks with the “mummy” made from the bodies of dead family members.
Dr. Jin pointed out that this is another reason why we should study the sadness of other animals.
“This is not just about animal welfare, but also about animal rights.” Dr. King said, “Once we understand the depth of animal emotions, we begin to question the meaning of zoos and slaughterhouses and rethink these systems. The sadness and sorrow felt by human beings can be felt by animals all over the world. For now, recognizing this is undoubtedly a great solace.”