Thanks to YouTube, scientists have unraveled the mystery of how elephants mourn the dead, the report says.

  • A team of scientists used YouTube videos to observe elephants mourning the dead, according to a new paper.
  • They captured 24 instances of mourning a lost member of a herd of elephants in 39 videos, the study said.
  • Scientists were surprised to see female elephants holding dead calves for days or weeks at a time.

Biologist Sanjeeta Sharma Pokharel observed only one instance of an Asian elephant mourning a dead animal in the wild after four years of fieldwork in India. — Journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Some of her colleagues, who have been observing wild elephants for decades, have only seen “a few” times when the animal expresses sadness, the journal said.

A team of scientists at the Indian Institute of Science and Technology’s Center for Ecological Sciences tried something new while struggling to capture the footage directly for research. They turned to YouTube.

through search terms such as “Asian Elephant Death” And “Elephant reaction to death“ said the team can discover a wealth of new data.

They found 39 videos containing 24 instances of mourning a dead elephant. paper It was published Wednesday in the journal Royal Society Open Science.

In the video, a team of researchers observed the elephant’s mourning behavior.

According to New York Times, They saw elephants sniffing their noses, touching corpses, waving the dead with their legs, and obvious attempts to revive them by kicking dead calves.

Elephants also blew their trumpets and roared in response to death, the New York Times reported, keeping vigils for the lost herd by staying near corpses and expelling curious humans.

In one case, a calf cuddled with its dying mother, and in another case, an adult elephant used its trunk to gently stroke the heads of its friends. (

Most surprising, Pokharel told the newspaper that he observed a mature female elephant carrying the carcass of a dead calf. It has been observed in five cases, the New York Times reported.

According to, female elephants, presumably mothers, could be seen holding babies through the woods for days, perhaps weeks at a time.

This research is part of a growing field called comparative thanatology, the scientific study of death and dying.

How to crowdsource video according to science Eye Ecology. This includes using online resources to generate ecological insights.

Pokharel told The New York Times that a study of how elephants mourn would be helpful. Because the cold “gives us insight into the highly complex cognitive abilities of elephants,” he said.

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