Sunday, 8 October 2017

Mourning Mom? Macaque Carries Daughter's Mummified Corpse for 4 Weeks


By Dan Robitzski, Live Science Staff Writer | September 27, 2017 06:42am ET

Loss and grief can make people do strange things, but that's nothing compared to our cousins in the animal kingdom. Recently, in a wildlife park in Italy, one macaque mother named Evalyne whose newborn died after just five days spent four weeks carrying around the infant's mummified remains.

In addition to occasionally grooming the decaying body, Evalyne was also seen taking bites of her deceased daughter, cannibalizing the remains in what may have been a final maternal instinct, the researchers studying her said in a case study published online Sept. 20 in the journal Primates.

"Everybody asks us why the mother came to cannibalize her offspring. To be honest, we simply do not know," said study co-author Bernard Thierry, a research director at France's National Center for Scientific Research, who studies ecology and physiology.

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