For several days, a monkey in Europe was seen carrying her baby’s corpse. But after some time, the mother ate her own child.
A report on Live Science said Kumasi, which is a female Mandrillus leucophaeus, gave birth to her baby at Dvůr Králové safari park in the Czech Republic. Unfortunately, the baby died after eight days and the cause of the death was unknown.
It was noticed that days after her baby died, Kumasi carried the corpse as she even prevented zoo keepers from removing the body. However, days after, the mother began eating her baby’s remains.
The zoo keepers were able to remove the corpse but most of it was already eaten by Kumasi. According to the report, no other monkey was able to eat the body of the baby monkey.
The reason behind
Researchers who studied this incident said that Kumasi kept her baby’s corpse close to her as other monkeys surround them to inspect her infant’s body. It could be possible that the mother was grieving for her child’s life and that she could not still accept what had happened to her baby.
Primate biologist and author of the study Elisabetta Palagi said in the report that monkeys and apes often inspect the face of their dead babies in order to see if there are eye movements.
“When the mothers do not receive any feedback from the baby, it probably means that something is going wrong,” Palagi told Live Science, adding that Kumasi might have gone restless when she noticed that her baby was not responding.
Palagi expressed belief that there might be a reason for the mother to eat the baby monkey.
She said that cannibalism could actually be considered an adaptive evolutionary trait that helps the mother to recover energy after gestation. Palagi added that this would even increase her chances of reproduction in the future.
Palagi also took note the act of the mother wherein she did not share her child to other monkeys. The expert said this act supports the hypothesis of the nutritional benefit of cannibalism.
An Independent report said the act of primates carrying around their dead infants has implied that these animals are grieving.
The report cited a study published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences in which researchers reviewed 409 instances, across 50 different primates, of a mother carrying the corpse of her baby.
They discovered that 80 percent of the different primates studied carried their dead baby, which is also known as “infant corpse carrying.”
A report on IFL Science indicated that the act of cannibalism could actually have benefits for the mother. It said the cannibalism could appear as an adaptive evolutionary trait if we consider the high reproductive energy investment of primate mothers.
The researchers believed that this kind of study is necessary for quantitative and qualitative evaluations of a wide range of reported post-mortem behaviors.
An entry posted in Phys.Org previously reported an incident of cannibalism within primates.
This happened in Costa Rica national park wherein a female monkey devoured an infant white-faced capuchin monkey that fell from a tree. Two weeks later, the said female monkey gave birth.
Related Article: Scientists Unlock A Key Cognitive Ability Of Monkeys
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