Sunday, August 29, 2021

Do wild animals get PTSD? Scientists probe its evolutionary roots

Many creatures show lasting changes in behavior and physiology after a traumatic experience

They're terrified! I'm not surprised. 

In recent years, though, researchers have come to a startling conclusion: Hare numbers fall from their peak not just because predators eat too many of them. There’s another factor, too: Chronic stress from living surrounded by killers causes mother hares to eat less food and bear fewer babies. The trauma of living through repeated predator chases triggers lasting changes in brain chemistry that parallel those seen in the brains of traumatized people. Those changes keep the hares from reproducing at normal levels, even after their predators have died off.

The reasons to fear are clear. Recent studies have found that up to 32 percent of adult female giraffes in the Serengeti carry scars from lion attacks, 25 percent of harbor porpoises in the southern North Sea have claw and bite marks from gray seals and 100 percent of manta rays in some African waters bear multiple bite wounds from sharks. These survivors may carry memories of terror along with their physical scars.

Knowable Magazine 

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