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Appears in Collections:Psychology Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Dead-infant carrying by chimpanzee mothers in the Budongo Forest
Author(s): Soldati, Adrian
Fedurek, Pawel
Crockford, Catherine
Adue, Sam
Akankwasa, John Walter
Asiimwe, Caroline
Asua, Jackson
Atayo, Gideon
Chandia, Boscou
Freymann, Elodie
Fryns, Caroline
Muhumuza, Geresomu
Taylor, Derry
Zuberbühler, Klaus
Hobaiter, Catherine
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Keywords: Thanatology
Infant corpse carrying
Pan troglodytes
Issue Date: 10-Jul-2022
Date Deposited: 12-Jul-2022
Citation: Soldati A, Fedurek P, Crockford C, Adue S, Akankwasa JW, Asiimwe C, Asua J, Atayo G, Chandia B, Freymann E, Fryns C, Muhumuza G, Taylor D, Zuberbühler K & Hobaiter C (2022) Dead-infant carrying by chimpanzee mothers in the Budongo Forest. Primates.
Abstract: It has been suggested that non-human primates can respond to deceased conspecifics in ways that suggest they experience psychological states not unlike humans, some of which could indicate they exhibit a notion of death. Here, we report long- term demographic data from two East African chimpanzee groups. During a combined 40-year observation period, we recorded 191 births of which 68 died in infancy, mostly within the first year. We documented the post-mortem behaviour of the mothers and describe nine occasions where Budongo chimpanzee mothers carried infants for 1–3 days after their death, usually until the body started to decompose. We also observed three additional cases of extended carrying lasting for more than 2 weeks, one of which was followed by the unusual extended carrying of an object and another which lasted 3 months. In each case, the corpses mummified. In addition, we report four instances of recurring dead-infant carrying by mothers, three of whom carried the corpse for longer during the second instance. We discuss these observations in view of functional hypotheses of dead-infant carrying in primates and the potential proximate mechanisms involved in this behaviour.
DOI Link: 10.1007/s10329-022-00999-x
Rights: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
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