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Elephants Pay Condolence
According to a study of the creatures; responses to skulls and ivory elephants, like humans, take the death of a relative very seriously and pay homage to them.
Humans apart, only a few animals show any interest in their own dead. Chimpanzees show prolonged and complex behaviors towards a dead social partner-but abandon them once the carcass starts decomposing. But lions, for example, might sniff or lick a dead member of its own species before proceeding to devour the body.

African elephants have been observed to become highly agitated when they come across the bodies of their own, and they have been seen to pay great attention to the skull and ivory of long-dead elephants. However, this interest had not been tested experimentally.

Now research from a team in the UK and Kenya has demonstrated that African elephants pay a higher level of interest to elephant skulls compared to those of other animals, and ivory compared to wood.

However, the team could not corroborate stories that elephants specifically visit the bones of dead relatives. The elephant families in their study were unable to pick out the skull of their dead matriarch from other families' dead matriarchs.

"But their interest in the ivory and skulls of their own species means that they would be highly likely to visit the bones of relatives who die within their home range," writes the team, lead by Karen McComb at the University of Sussex, UK.
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Posted on : 23/11/2005
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