In a significant discovery, a new study conducted by the researchers at University College London and France’s Université de Montpellier has revealed that baboons carry their dead infants up to 10 days before they eventually bid adieu to the deceased babies. The study was conducted for a period of 13 years.
The research that took place in the Namibian desert, southern Africa, has been published in the journal Royal Society Open Science. As per reports, the behaviour of baboons was observed in 12 cases of baby baboons’ death, by the researchers. This research constituted a miscarriage and two stillbirth instances, and the response of wild Namibian chacma baboons to their deaths.
The researchers observed that the reaction of the parents to their offspring’s death vary in different cases, with the time duration of minimum one hour and maximum 10 days. But, according to reports, on an average, most mothers held on to their dead babies for three to four days.
Alecia Carter, lead author of the research said in a press release, “There are numerous hypotheses to explain primate responses to dead infants. Perhaps the strongest hypothesis is that carrying after death is an extension of nurturing behavior.”
This has been revealed in the study as it was observed that when the infant dies, the mother baboons would continue to look after their progenies. The researchers further noticed that this time might be working as a “grief management” for the primates. This shows the ability of animals to feel for and to grieve their dead – a trait known to be common among creatures including elephants, whales, dolphins, as per reports.
Alecia Carter also added that the reason for this behaviour has not been clear, however, she believes that it depends on a range of factors. She also mentioned that this behaviour indicates a strong selection on mother-infant bond formation which is difficult to sever.