April 27, 2010

Chimpanzees Mourn Their Dead.
  • NPR had an interesting interview about this today. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=126278183
  • HB's link made clickable: NPR interview I find it odd that anyone could think that chimps DON'T mourn. It may not be mourning as we do it, but it is a definite reaction to death.
  • I remember reading a story a while back of a young chimp very attached to it's mother - to the point of obsession - and when she died, the chimp mourned until it died. They have a strong societal structure, so it's not unexpected for them to have evolved certain behaviours that humans can recognise as similar.
  • That was documented by Jane Goodall in one of her books (I think Through a Window), possibly the same one EdArzakh is thinking of. I think the chimp was little Goblin, and there's a heartbreaking photo of him lying on the ground, staring into space, after his mother died.
  • In the book "How We Decide", Jonah Lehrer makes the argument that our morale sense predates (and indeed is the source of) all religious moral codification (duh), as evidenced by the irrational (in the economic sense) moralistic social behavior in non-human primates. Actually, I just made that sound really boring. Forget all that... it's a great read!
  • On the other hand, I've known some people who are incapable of mourning others' deaths. Hell, I'm the son of one.