Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Elephants in mourning

I came across something recently that I thought might serve as a bit of a change of pace as a post.

Elephants bury and mourn the death of another elephant, particularly one from their own family herd (they also, interestingly, live in extended families with group participation in rearing of young and they are very ‘social”). [This parenthetic statement certainly calls into question our confining them solitarily in zoos] Elephants also return to “visit” their dead relatives in their cemeteries, paying them homage (they also exhibit that veneration with any elephant bones/remains). These are behaviors that may be unique to humans and elephants. There are also a number of reports of elephants burying dead humans.

Nothing much more to say, I just thought it was interesting that a behavior thought to demonstrate the “humanness” of humans (mourning our dead and venerating our dead in cemeteries) isn’t uniquely human.

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