Research Finds the Answer to Why Primates Hold Onto Dead Infants

Research Finds the Answer to Why Primates Hold Onto Dead Infants

A study published in Live Science was conducted to uncover the reason why primates carry around their dead infants. This is a distressing behavior where primate mothers will continue to treat the infant as though it were alive, even as it is decomposing.

Researchers conducted an analysis of over 400 cases where this behavior was observed over the span of 50 primate species.

The data showed the researchers that the age of the mother and child could have something to do with these behaviors.

The researchers also found that great apes carried around their dead infants the longest. Some were found to do so for as long as several months.

The researchers discovered that this behavior could have several reasons behind it, such as the death not being obvious to the mother or her being too young to understand death.

Other reasons also included that this was a grief response and a way to cope with the stress of losing the infant. Many primates that don’t carry their dead infants still show very human-like signs of grief, such as mourning over the body and revisiting the body after death.

This is just one behavior that shows just how emotionally developed these creatures are. Primates also mourn over loss, similarly to how a human would.

Another study showcasing the amazing abilities of primates found that chimps and bonobos can signal “hello” and “goodbye” to one another in social situations.

This unique behavior is the first time it has ever been discovered outside of human interactions, but it makes sense since apes share 99 percent of our DNA. How amazing is that??

This article by Abigail Jane was first published by OneGreenPlanet on 14 January 2023. 

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