Firefighters in Taiwan were shocked when they discovered that a recently captured viper had killed itself, the Taipei Times reports.
The pit viper was over a meter long and found with its fangs stuck in its body. The firefighters who had captured it from a local residence in Nantou County in Taiwan said it appeared to have killed itself.
However the Council of Agriculture’s Endemic Species Research Institute’s zoology division chief, Cheng Hsi-chi said that suicide was a human label that doesn’t fit with animal behavior.
He told the Taipei Times that “Most of the time, it is humans that subjectively label some animal behaviors as suicides, such as when a large pod of whales die after beaching themselves,” Cheng said.
Animal suicides have a long history of thought, with both Aristotle and the Romans discussing the issue. Victorian scholars also had a field day trying to prove that scorpions can commit suicide.
There is still no evidence now that animals mirror human thinking in committing acts of what look like suicide. Self-destruction, though, is a behavior that exists in organisms for the good of the community and can look like what we call suicide, according to Slate.
[Image via 89sky.net]