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September 24, 1960

Natural Selection and the Origin and Evolution of Weeping in Man

Author Affiliations

Princeton, N. J.

JAMA. 1960;174(4):392-397. doi:10.1001/jama.1960.63030040004012

IT IS A curious thing that man is the only creature who weeps. That is to say, man is the only creature who sheds tears when he is emotionally distressed. The shedding of tears as an accompaniment of emotional distress has been attributed to other animals, such as the dog, the elephant, the koala bear, and, of course, the crocodile. The truth, however, appears to be that while some of these animals may upon occasion exhibit the evidences of tears, this occurs very seldom, and is the exception rather than the rule. These animals, like all terrestrial vertebrates, possess a lacrimal system, and their eyes are bathed by the secretions of the lacrimal gland, but psychic weeping is not known to occur as a normal function in any animal other than man. Fish and aquatic animals whose eyes are bathed by the fluid medium in which they live do

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