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← Chimps' emotional response to death caught on film

Chimps' emotional response to death caught on film - Comments

PozzSka's Avatar Comment 1 by PozzSka

That chokes a man up. My wife mentioned to me elephants doing similar things (it was interaction between a child and mother, IIRC, I can't find the video).

How anyone can deny our past...

Tue, 27 Apr 2010 12:21:00 UTC | #463321

phasmagigas's Avatar Comment 2 by phasmagigas

a piece of evidence (we can perhaps assume our LCA with chimps had such behaviours, breaks down religious notions of unique human empathy, 'soul' and awareness) to suggest that we are not especially special within the universe and precisely the type of thing to unhinge the self obsessed religious mind although the obligatory denial of such evidence will unfortunately prevent too much enlightenment.

Tue, 27 Apr 2010 12:22:00 UTC | #463322

Dustin14's Avatar Comment 3 by Dustin14

Tue, 27 Apr 2010 12:24:00 UTC | #463324

Saganic Rites's Avatar Comment 4 by Saganic Rites

The late primatologist Stella Brewer observed similar scenes during her research at the Gombe Reserve many years ago.
Highly emotive and very revealing about the true nature of these 'wild' animals.

For a little light relief, check this spoof by The Onion then look at some of the comments. Gullibility rules O.K!
ps. is this the 'gorilla' that played the drums in the rexcent 'Cadbury's' advert?

Tue, 27 Apr 2010 13:20:00 UTC | #463342

Harps's Avatar Comment 5 by Harps

I have long been under the impression that animal displays of empathy are far from rare.

Tue, 27 Apr 2010 13:21:00 UTC | #463343

at3p's Avatar Comment 6 by at3p

Isn't the bonobo ( ) the nearest evolutionary cousin?

Tue, 27 Apr 2010 13:43:00 UTC | #463348

helena!'s Avatar Comment 7 by helena!

More fascinating videos here. Especially the last one with the little one playing with the corpse of another baby.

Tue, 27 Apr 2010 14:05:00 UTC | #463354

modern_artifact's Avatar Comment 8 by modern_artifact

When I was a younger I read, When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals (Masson and McCarthy 1996) and never quite forgot it. I think many people are blind to such things, really a blatant anthropocentrism. Glad to see more research being done in this area.

Tue, 27 Apr 2010 14:16:00 UTC | #463358

helena!'s Avatar Comment 9 by helena!

Tue, 27 Apr 2010 14:45:00 UTC | #463364

Saganic Rites's Avatar Comment 10 by Saganic Rites

Back to The 'Onion' gorilla spoof if I may, here's the 'mortality-aware gorilla' in his most famous acting role to date;

Tue, 27 Apr 2010 15:21:00 UTC | #463375

Saganic Rites's Avatar Comment 11 by Saganic Rites

Helena, the 2nd video on the BBC link is heartbreaking. 'Chasing round a tree' is a very popular game among baby chimps, and to see this little one trying to get its dead sibling to play the game; well, it brought a lump to my throat!

Tue, 27 Apr 2010 15:27:00 UTC | #463376

JuJu's Avatar Comment 12 by JuJu

Its important to keep in mind that we are not looking at our past here. The chimps have developed these behaviors separately from the behaviors our human ancestors. If the common ancestor between chimps and humans had some of these behaviors before parting ways then it could be said that there is a correlation. Although it is likely that we did develop similar behavior that may or may not be recognizable. These are modern chimps doing what modern chimps do. We're not looking through a window into our past. But its easy to see how in the future, without human intervention, chimps could evolve and develop social structures and intelligence similar to ours.

Tue, 27 Apr 2010 15:31:00 UTC | #463378

antipodesman's Avatar Comment 13 by antipodesman

I once witnessed a magpie speaking to his dead and squashed comrade on the road.

Tue, 27 Apr 2010 15:33:00 UTC | #463380

phasmagigas's Avatar Comment 14 by phasmagigas


Its important to keep in mind that we are not looking at our past here.

agreed, i'd be surprised if some elements werent retained from out LCA but what we are seeing is a 'behavioural cousin' in the same way our bodies are actual cousins of chimps.

Tue, 27 Apr 2010 15:34:00 UTC | #463381

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 15 by Stafford Gordon

It's beautiful, revealing and moving, but subscribers to this website, although they'll enjoy it, know about such things.

I think it's much more important that those not fortunate enough to have knowledge of evolution or who deny it should be shown this kind of material.

So I suggest that people think of any doubters they know and forward it to them; do them a favour!

Tue, 27 Apr 2010 15:43:00 UTC | #463388

prettygoodformonkeys's Avatar Comment 16 by prettygoodformonkeys

Here's a squirrel defending his dead friend's body from crows.....

Tue, 27 Apr 2010 15:43:00 UTC | #463389

helena!'s Avatar Comment 17 by helena!

BryanFisher -

Yes I agree. It's quite sad as you can see that the little one is trying to engage the dead one in play. He can't understand but is very playful. Or perhaps he does understand and is just being a cheeky monkey ;)

So interesting to watch the reaction of disgust from the middle one. So sad for the mother who cares for her dead baby for months afterwards. It shows that they do grieve and it is difficult for them to accept death too.

I can't see the onion video but will have a look later.

Tue, 27 Apr 2010 15:47:00 UTC | #463393

Saganic Rites's Avatar Comment 18 by Saganic Rites

Although I agree that we are not literally looking at our past, I think that a comparison can be (tentatively) made if you look at the chimps as a 'mirror' to our evolutionary past.
If evolutionary change happens fastest when an organism is adapting to new surroundings, as could be proposed for our own development once 'we' left the forests, there may be a case that the chimps, being better suited to their environment, had no need of such an evolutionary 'burst', even though their actual development may be on lines similar to our own.

Tue, 27 Apr 2010 15:55:00 UTC | #463395

Dhamma's Avatar Comment 19 by Dhamma


No, the chimpanzee and the Pygmy chimpanzee (bonobo) are our equally near cousin as the bonobo is another branch of the common ancestor to the chimpanzee.

Tue, 27 Apr 2010 16:17:00 UTC | #463404

helena!'s Avatar Comment 20 by helena!

Stafford Gordon -

I sent it to a Catholic friend. She didn't even acknowledge it. Sad really. Ironically she loves the Twilight books and Harry Potter yet is so extremely serious about her Catholicism. She seems to have no interest in the wonders of the real world and of reality.

While I have a very creative mind I have not much interest in fantasy because it would take away from my time to learn and study real nature and animals. Reality is the greatest show on earth and nothing comes close. It's more than enough.

Tue, 27 Apr 2010 16:19:00 UTC | #463405

TIKI AL's Avatar Comment 21 by TIKI AL

Should I tell my Catholic neighbor(the one who hung a saint in a bottle from an ailing tree in an effort to cure it) that science has just proven without a doubt that chimps have souls?

Tue, 27 Apr 2010 16:23:00 UTC | #463406

movingshadow's Avatar Comment 22 by movingshadow

Comment #484124 by at3p on April 27, 2010 at 2:43 pm
avatarIsn't the bonobo ( ) the nearest evolutionary cousin?

Nope. Pan troglodytes and Pan paniscus split from eachother after they split from us, and thus are equally 'distant'.

Tue, 27 Apr 2010 16:25:00 UTC | #463408

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 23 by mordacious1

13. Comment #484156 by antipodesman

I once witnessed a magpie speaking to his dead and squashed comrade on the road.

Did he say: "I bet you don't have the guts to do that again."?

Tue, 27 Apr 2010 16:32:00 UTC | #463409

Saganic Rites's Avatar Comment 24 by Saganic Rites


Did he say: "I bet you don't have the guts to do that again."?

For the 2nd time today, I damn near soaked my unmentionables!

Tue, 27 Apr 2010 17:06:00 UTC | #463420

helena!'s Avatar Comment 25 by helena!

Sidebar - "How to hide your atheism" Funny stuff on the Canadian show "The Hour" - 18min in.

Tue, 27 Apr 2010 17:48:00 UTC | #463430

TIKI AL's Avatar Comment 26 by TIKI AL

"Did he say: "I bet you don't have the guts to do that again."? " . . .I heard that one along with this one when I was a kid:

Worm hanging out of flying vulture's butt: "How high are we?"
Vulture: "5,000 feet."
Worm: "You wouldn't shit me, would you?"

Tue, 27 Apr 2010 19:30:00 UTC | #463447

jinmane's Avatar Comment 27 by jinmane

When a theist asks how/why an atheist can express feelings of genuine kindness towards others without believing in God, just mention that altruism is an instinctive behaviour not unique to humans; chimps for example have this altruistic nature also, and I'm pretty sure that they're not religious, let alone Christian.

Tue, 27 Apr 2010 19:57:00 UTC | #463456

Fuzzy Duck's Avatar Comment 28 by Fuzzy Duck

Terrifically poignant video. Scientifically fascinating, and, perhaps, a good means of consciousness raising.

Of course, there are some minor concerns of misguided anthropomorphism ascribed to such behavior. But it's hard to deny the similarities to our own species.

We are not so different from our animal relatives; rather, we ARE animals.


Tue, 27 Apr 2010 20:13:00 UTC | #463462

severalspeciesof's Avatar Comment 29 by severalspeciesof

I don't know about this idea of grieving [over death] among chimps...

In my honest opinion what I see is the chimps' inability to understand death, so it is life and daily activities as usual...

sorry if that sounds cold...

A better example of altruism or a sense of it are cases where chimps have been known to jump into a body of water to save another one (at least I've been told that this has happened, someone let me know if it hasn't). This is more telling since chimps instinctively know they can't swim...

[edit for clarity]

Tue, 27 Apr 2010 20:22:00 UTC | #463466

William T. Dawkins's Avatar Comment 30 by William T. Dawkins

I wonder if the middle one has some type of response to recognise the dead body as a health threat. But you would think the mother would then not carry it for all that time if this were true.

Tue, 27 Apr 2010 20:49:00 UTC | #463469