Animals Mourning the Dead, or Confirming It?

I’m skeptical whether this is mourning behavior.  I’ve never seen anything but humans mourn.  There are no audible signs, tearing of hair, gnashing of teeth or anything familiar about mourning.  I would at least expect audible, visual and social cues.  All I’m getting here are social cues: inspecting the body and having others inspect it.

To me, there may be an evolutionary factor at work here.  Certain diseases and illnesses can appear to be fatal.  Sleeping also resembles death. Why not have a parent expend extra energy to confirm that a dead infant is not sleeping and not ill.  This chimp was carried around by the mother for 24 hours, then laid down and inspected periodically for an hour, then taken to other chimps to be inspected, then abandoned.

This looks like a chimp being sure its child is indeed dead.  Is the mother sad? I don’t know.  What everyone else is implying is that the chimp mother is sad.  The people who claim that animals can mourn know she’s sad.  Therefore, this is mourning  behavior.

Does she look sad to you?  If that infant was actually a dirty t-shirt, and the mother was approaching the t-shirt that way, would the mother appear sad?  Out of context, it just isn’t definitively mourning behavior.  It seems more like curiosity.


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