By Ian Morris
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Extra resources for Attitudes Toward Death in Archaic Greece
Departure occurred over some 25 minutes, with various individuals glancing or pausing for longer looks at the corpse. 16 the last individuals depart. The process of detachment has occurred over three-and-a-half hours. Teleki presents an interesting analysis of this fascinating observation, noting that the specific reactions of individuals varied with age. Past-prime and prime adult males showed an immediate reaction but lost interest more rapidly than younger chimpanzees, who showed less initial reaction but showed interest in the corpse for longer periods.
It is plausible that structured abandonment has deep roots. Given that chimpanzees appear to be aware that death has occurred, probably at the time of the event or very shortly afterwards, instances in which corpses 37 PRIMATE ROOTS are carried as if they were still living infants, as opposed to being dragged over several metres, are surprising. As Hrdy (1999, 178) has noted, a monkey or ape mother will carry for days the limp, even decomposing, body of an infant that has died. Ever so gently, the mother lays the corpse on the ground while she feeds, fetching it when she is ready to move on.
268, my emphasis). In a third incident – a disturbing modus operandum is emerging – an infant was seized during fighting with the protective mother. , 269, my emphasis). At Mahale the fatal injury was a bite to the face in two of three cases, and the first parts eaten of killed infants were the face and head, in addition to distal limbs (Hamai et al. 1992). The facilitation of infanticide by head-biting has even been observed among langurs (Hrdy 1999, 237). Given that other methods of killing infant-sized prey (as well as colobus monkeys and other typical prey species) include bashing against trees, biting of limb extremities, tearing and general feeding, the concentration of the head area is surprising.