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Original author: 
Jeffrey Kluger

For Jeffrey Kluger’s feature on animal grieving in this week’s issue, TIME reached out to noted animal photographer Charlotte Dumas, who has been making deeply empathetic portraits of a variety of species for years.

If animals nurture their own (which they do) and care about their kin (they do that too) why would we not assume they mourn their dead? A growing group of researchers are coming to the conclusion that animals not only grieve, but in some cases grieve deeply. That’s an easy case to make by simple observation, but not in any other way. When you’re working with animals, there’s no possibility of the self-reporting that is so central a part of studies of human psychology. But when it comes to the beasts, those observations might be enough.

There are the elephants that hold what appear to be wakes for their dead — hovering over them as they die and coming back for a week or more to mind and tend the remains. There are the crows that similarly circle a fallen flock-mate and will bring twigs in seeming tribute and even cover the remains with grass. Dogs and cats will wander their homes looking for a lost littermate or playmate and often sink into what looks for all the world like the lethargy and lack of appetite that are the hallmarks of human depression. Bonobo and baboon mothers will carry their dead babies for weeks after they’ve died — and dolphin mothers will similarly push their lost young along through the water.

Studies of brain and blood chemistry — to they extent they exist for animals — confirm that something like a grief reaction is taking place. Baboons exhibit an uptick in hormones that lead to stress and later affiliation when a member of the troop is killed by a predator, and this is especially so among the friends or close social companions of the victim. Crows show stress reactions in the amygdala, just as humans do, and that response would likely be more acute if a mate died, particularly since crows may pair off for 20 years — longer than a lot of human marriages.

(Read more: The Mystery of Animal Grief )

In all animal research there is the ever-present risk of anthropomorphism. We refract their behavior through the prism of our own because that’s what we know best. But here it makes sense. All of the beasts — humans included — exist on a sort of continuum of intelligence, emotion and social complexity. Just because we’re at the top of that heap, doesn’t mean that the beasts below us don’t have experiences to ours — even if they’re briefer, blunter, simpler. Animals are social creatures and they’re also sentient creatures. The pain of death is likely not something they’re spared.

Charlotte Dumas is a photographer based in Amsterdam. Her latest book,
Anima, features the burial horses of Arlington Cemetery.

Jeffrey Kluger is an editor-at-large at TIME, oversees the magazine’s science, health and technology reporting.

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Oh, my goodness this video is sweet. Uploader "jefcharles" explains,

After being sent home from work the first thing I did on getting home was to check outside the back door to see if there were any cat paw prints. There weren't, so I thought I'd introduce Fletcher to the snow and film the results..

(thanks, Joe Sabia!)

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Treading carefully across the loose stones of the expansive Karoo region of South Africa, photographer Daniel Naudé approached his elusive subject with the cunning of a predator. Through wind, rain and waning light, he tracked the skittish, feral Africanis, a wild breed of dog, that runs freely across the terrain.

“Captivity and freedom were the forces that emerged after my first encounter with the Africanis dog,” said Naudé, 28, discussing some of the themes stitched into his work in Animal Farm, his newest book of photography. “This [encounter] led to many road trips, running after dogs in the veld while discovering how best to portray them.”

The book, which features images of the South Africa’s animals and their human kin, engages the viewer in a meditation on the connectedness of humankind and the animal world. Because of this connection, Naudé decided to name his project after George Orwell’s classic treatise. Like Orwell, Naudé’s prodding questions about the relationships between human and beast suggest an unsettling answer: that you never quite know which one you are.

Animal Farm started with a weekend road trip from South Africa to Mozambique in late 2006. Naudé and a friend found themselves rolling through the Northern Cape when a lanky, Africanis dog slunk across the road. The dog’s eyes met Naudé’s, and in that moment, set in motion a fascination with these illusive and inspiring animals, he said.

“I was always interested in how people lived with domesticated and livestock animals, and the way that the histories of people and animals overlapped in the landscape,” said Naudé, who spent the next five years traveling across the country, sleeping in police stations, the homes of welcoming strangers and even his car, while tracking his wild subjects.

Over time, Mr. Naude’s own life started to mimic that of the Africanis.

“Time is not your own when you are working with nature,” said Naudé, remembering the long days in search and the long nights in wait. But the freedom of travel and experience of the hunt also exposed him to region’s rich history and the people who would become part of his final project.

This expeditionary spirit is what imbued Naudé with a hunger for discovery reminiscent of past explorers. Most noticeably, he said he was motivated by British artist-explorer Samuel Daniell who set out from Cape Town in 1801 to catalogue the landscape, people and animals. In this same fashion, Animal Farm quickly became more than mere images of the Africanis because it engaged with the sociological and visual landscape of South Africa.

“Photographing the animals in these landscapes reinforced these ideas of human control, our need to rule, and our fear of the untamed,” he said. The images captured a rawness and sense of contest between man and animal, a feeling strengthened by Naude’s decision to position each dog above the horizon in his frames — a device intended to communicate power and force to the viewer.

In a country scarred by the experience of apartheid, Animal Farm suggests a desire for reconciliation. The Africanis, an animal viewed derisively for its exotic and mixed heritage, serves as symbol, emblematic of the disdain shown to the previous generations considered inferior in South Africa. Importantly, Naudé said his work resists asserting the superiority of either human or beast, but instead argues that “human and animal are equally corrupt.”

“I wanted to portray my subject as a reflection on the complexities and diversities in our country,” he said, when asked what he hoped people could take away from these photographs. “I point my lens to these animals so that we can question, challenge and finally learn to relate.”

Daniel Naudé’s ‘Animal Farm’ was published in late 2012 by Prestel.

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Here's a big difference between nature and a natural history museum: In the wild, when you find a skeleton of anything, it's seldom arranged in a neat, orderly, anatomically correct manner. Even if an animal dies in captivity, nature won't just conveniently produce a skeleton suitable for mounting.

So how do museums get the perfect skeletal specimens that you see behind glass?

The answer: Lots and lots and lots of tedious work. Plus the assistance of a few thousand flesh-eating bugs.

This video from the University of Michigan traces the creation of a bat skeleton, from a fleshy dead bat in a jar, to a neat, little set of bones in a display case. It's painstaking (and moderately disgusting) work. Sort of like building model cars, if the Ford Mustang had realistic organ tissue.

Thanks to Neil Shurley!

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This video clip has been around since 2011, but it may be new for you. It documents photographer John King's "an amazing chance encounter with a troop of wild mountain gorillas near Bwindi National Park, Uganda," and at around 3 minutes in, shows a cameraman being curiously poked and cuddled by a female and her babies. Definitely a cure for any case of the bummers you may be experiencing today. Don't miss the look the gorilla gives the human around 5:11, before it walks away. As a commenter put it, "ALPHA AS FUCK."

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Swedish photographer Mårten Lange is of that rare breed of people to whom you can give a camera and, no matter what he takes a picture of – be it a shower curtain, a puddle or a cavity in a rock – he’ll make it look so great it’ll give you goosebumps. I could reel off a whole list of adjectives to describe his work, like “inspiring”, “universal”, “sentimental”, “larger-than-life”, blah-blah-blah, da-da-da, but what’s the point when you can just admire the photos above and make up your own mind?

More Photos + Interview

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From the U.S. presidential debate in Denver and a ferry disaster in Hong Kong to Europe’s unbelievable Ryder Cup comeback in Illinois and a tiger cub at the Shanghai Zoo, TIME presents the best pictures of the week.

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Clever whale sharks have figured out that fishing nets contain a lot of tasty fish. More importantly, they've figured out that they can suck those fish out of the net through holes in the net material.

The downside: When the sharks swim into fishing areas, looking for nets to suck, they can end up caught in the nets themselves. Conservation International took this video, showing why the sharks are hanging out around nets to begin with, as part of a series of videos documenting new net designs that can keep the fishies in and the whale sharks out.

Check out the rest of the video series

Via Charles Q. Choi

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Vincent Fournier is a photographer of the future—both the one that’s actually happened, and the science-fiction future that we hoped would come to be. In his earlier work, the French artist plucked robots out of laboratories and staged portraits of artificial life forms like Sony’s Asimo going about their business in the human world, drinking from a water fountain or playing basketball. In his sprawling “Space Project,” Fournier—who used to visit the Paris museum of science as a child—traveled to world’s centers of space exploration, places like the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Russia and NASA’s venerable Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Fournier’s photographs make the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah look like the forbidding alien landscape it was meant to stand in for, while his shots of technicians in bubble-helmeted space suits are mined from the same visual vein as Stanley Kubricks’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. These are glimpses of Tomorrowland, the space age that never quite took off. Even his work on Brasilia—the custom-built capital of Brazil, that perpetual “country of the future”—show an obsession with classic visions of tomorrow, with humankind’s effort to bring the universe to heel. “I love machines, the ones that fly, speak, count or observe,” Fournier has written. “I’m fascinated by the magical aspect of science, which seems to reduce the complexity of the world to a few mathematical formulae.”

In his new work, Fournier is still looking to the future—to the hard lines of the man-made—but he’s moved to things that are living. Or at least, things that may live. In his “Engineered Species” project, part of his recently released book Past Forward, Fournier explores how life itself tinkers with its own design, changing DNA to make species better, faster and stronger. Fournier took pictures of taxidermy specimens—stuffed and pinned animals—and brought them to animal geneticists to find how these species were evolving in real time as the environment, thanks largely to human action, keeps changing.

The result are new engineered species like a global warming-tolerant pangolin, a rodent-like Asian mammal with a tougher keratin skin that enables it to maintain a constant body temperature, even in a hotter climate. An ibis—a long-legged wading bird—evolves longer, stronger claws that help make it more resistant to both drought and frost. A rabbit—one that stares at the viewer with expressive blue eyes—is engineered for higher intelligence thanks to neural stem cell treatment.

None of these species are real yet, and like Fournier’s earlier space-age work, they may turn out to be a vision of a future that does not come to pass. But I doubt it. We’re already on our way to engineering new life forms, to tinkering with the DNA of the species around us—and eventually ours as well. We may have no other choice—the environment is changing more rapidly than wildlife can adapt to, and the result is a wave of extinction happening faster than any this planet has witnessed for millions of years. For nature to survive, it may have to become artificial—though even Fournier, who says he loves machines, has his doubts about our ability to control these metamorphoses. “The universe is not as well ordered as our machines,” he writes. “It acts in an irrational, chaotic, violent and mysterious way, and even though there are computers that can design our forests, the control remains artificial.” Our engineering, after all, can exceed our wisdom.

Vincent Fournier’s limited edition monograph Past Forward was recently released by IDEA BOOKS.

Additionally, Fournier’s photographic work will be on display as part of the Les Rencontres d’Arles photography festival in France through September.

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