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General Research About Lachrymal Fluids
compiled by Alice Shirrell Kaswell, Improbable Research staff
Tears and crying are not fully understood, despite the efforts documented in these four studies.
The Art of Crying
Pictures and Tears: A History of People Who Have Cried in Front of Paintings, James Elkins, London, Routledge, 2001.
Does a Herdsman-Jilted Llama Shed Tears?
“Tear Apparatus of Animals: Do They Weep?” Juan Murube del Castillo, The Ocular Surface, vol. 7, no. 3, July 2009, pp. 121-127. The author, at the University of Acalà, Madrid, Spain, explains:
Sexual relations between shepherds and the members of their flocks have existed for millennia, leading to the development of a certain type of love between them. The female llama, a ruminant related to the camel, is said by the local people in the Andean high plateau to weep with tears of jealousy when the herdsman replaces her with another female llama. The abandoned llama circles around the new couple, shedding tears of jealousy and sadness. I have had the opportunity to ask several shepherds about this. They told me that a replaced llama may gaze sadly at the new couple, but they had never seen one weep.
Hymenoptera: Apidae That Drink Human Tears
“Bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae) That Drink Human Tears,” Hans Bänziger, Somnuk Boongird, Prachaval Sukumalanand, and Sängdao Bänziger, Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society, vol. 82, no. 2, January 2009, pp. 135-150. (Thanks to Mithra Parhi and Delia Cabe for bringing this to our attention.) The authors, at Chiang Mai University and Ramkhamhaeng University, Thailand, report:
Lisotrigona cacciae, L. furva and Pariotrigona klossi (Meliponini, Apidae) workers drank lachrymation (tears) from human eyes in more than 262 naturally-occurred cases at 10 sites in N and S Thailand during all months of the year. A few visits were also seen to eyes of zebu and dog, indicating a probable broad mammalian host range. On man the bees were relatively gentle visitors, mostly landing on the lower eyelashes from where they imbibed tears for 0.5–2.5 min, often singly but occasionally in congregations of 5–7 specimens per eye....
It appears that there are no prior publications about bees seeking lachrymation (tears) from humans or other vertebrates.
The Tears of a Camel
“Metabolomics and Trace Element Analysis of Camel Tear by GC-MS and ICP-MS,” Syed Rizwan Ahamad, Mohammad Raish, Syed Hilal Yaqoob, Altaf Khan, and Faiyaz Shakeel, Biological Trace Element Research, vol. 177, no. 2, 2016, pp. 251-257. (Thanks to Tom Gill for bringing this to our attention.)
This article is republished with permission from the May-June 2017 issue of the Annals of Improbable Research. You can download or purchase back issues of the magazine, or subscribe to receive future issues. Or get a subscription for someone as a gift!
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