Researchers in Portugal have added Atlantic Spotted dolphins to the list of mammals that grieve their dead, reports Wired.
Mentioned specifically in their study are two occasions in which members of the community were seen caring for the deceased.
In one, 4 adult dolphins used their backs and heads to keep the corpse of a calf afloat and did so for about 30 minutes before letting it go. The other sighting involved what was presumed to be a mother staying with her departed young.
In both cases the deaths appeared to be recent, given the condition of the corpses. It was concluded that while the Atlantic Spotted variety does acknowledge the loss, their ritual doesn’t go on for long, particularly compared to that of other species.
While their period of supporting the deceased lasts between minutes and hours, others have been known to carry corpses with them for days even after the decomposition process has begun.
Regardless of the duration, researcher Filipe Alves believes it is indeed an example of mourning the dead. He noted of mammals that live in pods at large, “…when they spend a lifetime together, sometimes 60 years or more, yes, I believe they can grieve.”