Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Todd K. Shackelford, Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford

Nonhuman Reactions to Death

  • Noemie BonninEmail author
  • Alex K. Piel
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_559-1



Death – The action or fact of dying or being killed; the point at which the processes that maintain an organism alive no longer function. Dead – Deprived of life; opposed to alive and living; reduced to that state of a being in which the organs of motion and life have irrevocably ceased to perform their functions.


Awareness of mortality is a human universal, evidenced by the pervasiveness of mortuary behavior and funerary rituals across human cultures, dating to Neanderthals over 40 ka. Humans exhibit diverse cultural variation in mortuary practices, in which treatment of dead bodies ranges from their consumption to the placement of them as far above or below ground as possible (Andrews et al. 2006). Moreover, compassionate behavior toward dying individuals is often regarded as a uniquely human trait, though recent reports of reactions to death and dying in nonhuman animals highlight the value of adopting a comparative...


Nonhuman Animal Dead Body Intergroup Encounter Dead Infant Adult Male Chimpanzee 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Liverpool John Moores UniversityLiverpoolUK