A Touching Study Suggests Marine Mammals Ache for Their Dead
A new study examines the behavior of seven species of marine animals around the dead.
Scientists have long believed that non-human animals care only about survival, spending their waking hours in search of food and engaging in activities that enhance their odds of survival in some way. Now a recent study in the Journal of Mammalogy of the way animals linger around their dead, and touch them, says we're witnessing something much different than a survival instinct. It’s grief. They just don’t want to, well, say goodbye.
Co-author of the study, Melissa Reggente, a biologist at Italy’s University of Milano-Bicocca, told National Geographic the story of a bottlenose dolphin female seen carrying the body of a smaller dolphin — her calf? — through the Red Sea.
The study was compiled from 14 reports about the behavior of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins, spinner dolphins, Orcas, Australian humpback dolphins, sperm whales, Risso’s dolphins, and short-finned pilot whales. The stories told of marine mammals encircling an adult seeming to mourn a calf, and of animals gently touching the dead with their fins.
In Science Alert co-author Robin Baird of the Cascadia Research Collective in Olympia, Washington, talked about an Orca who’d recently given birth seen carrying a dead newborn through the water. "She was trying to keep the dead calf up at the surface the entire time, balancing it on top of her head.”
An orca carries her dead newborn. (ROBIN W. BAIRD, CASCADIA RESEARCH)
One of the reasons the report concludes that this is grief we’re seeing is precisely because these behaviors seem to have nothing to do with survival — it’s time spent not searching for food, for example.
It’s hard to be 100% certain we’re interpreting an animal’s behavior correctly, but with evidence mounting that animals feel emotions, it’s reasonable, and sad, to assume for now that they experience the sorrow of loss much the same as we do.
Step inside the unlikely friendship of a former ACLU president and an ultra-conservative Supreme Court Justice.
- Former president of the ACLU Nadine Strossen and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia were unlikely friends. They debated each other at events all over the world, and because of that developed a deep and rewarding friendship – despite their immense differences.
- Scalia, a famous conservative, was invited to circles that were not his "home territory", such as the ACLU, to debate his views. Here, Strossen expresses her gratitude and respect for his commitment to the exchange of ideas.
- "It's really sad that people seem to think that if you disagree with somebody on some issues you can't be mutually respectful, you can't enjoy each other's company, you can't learn from each other and grow in yourself," says Strossen.
- The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.
Learn how to redesign your job for maximum reward.
- Broaching the question "What is my purpose?" is daunting – it's a grandiose idea, but research can make it a little more approachable if work is where you find your meaning. It turns out you can redesign your job to have maximum purpose.
- There are 3 ways people find meaning at work, what Aaron Hurst calls the three elevations of impact. About a third of the population finds meaning at an individual level, from seeing the direct impact of their work on other people. Another third of people find their purpose at an organizational level. And the last third of people find meaning at a social level.
- "What's interesting about these three elevations of impact is they enable us to find meaning in any job if we approach it the right way. And it shows how accessible purpose can be when we take responsibility for it in our work," says Hurst.
Erik Verlinde has been compared to Einstein for completely rethinking the nature of gravity.
- The Dutch physicist Erik Verlinde's hypothesis describes gravity as an "emergent" force not fundamental.
- The scientist thinks his ideas describe the universe better than existing models, without resorting to "dark matter".
- While some question his previous papers, Verlinde is reworking his ideas as a full-fledged theory.
TuSimple, an autonomous trucking company, has also engaged in test programs with the United States Postal Service and Amazon.
PAUL RATJE / Contributor
- This week, UPS announced that it's working with autonomous trucking startup TuSimple on a pilot project to deliver cargo in Arizona using self-driving trucks.
- UPS has also acquired a minority stake in TuSimple.
- TuSimple hopes its trucks will be fully autonomous — without a human driver — by late 2020, though regulatory questions remain.