Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Ticklish Apes? Young Apes Hoot Holler And Laugh In Way Similar To Human Infants

Date:
June 5, 2009
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
Like human infants, young apes are known to hoot and holler when you tickle them. But is it fair to say that those playful calls are really laughter? The answer to that question is yes, according to new research.

Orangutan 'Enero' being tickled.
Credit: University of Portsmouth

Like human infants, young apes are known to hoot and holler when you tickle them. But is it fair to say that those playful calls are really laughter? The answer to that question is yes, say researchers reporting online on June 4th in Current Biology.

"This study is the first phylogenetic test of the evolutionary continuity of a human emotional expression," said Marina Davila Ross of the University of Portsmouth in the United Kingdom. "It supports the idea that there is laughter in apes."

The researchers analyzed the recorded sounds of tickle-induced vocalizations produced by infant and juvenile orangutans, chimpanzees, gorillas, and bonobos, as well as those of human infants. A quantitative phylogenetic analysis of those acoustic data found that the best "tree" to represent the evolutionary relationships among those sounds matched the known evolutionary relationships among the five species based on genetics. The researchers said that the findings support a common evolutionary origin for the human and ape tickle-induced expressions.

They also show that laughter evolved gradually over the last 10 to 16 million years of primate evolutionary history. But human laughter is nonetheless acoustically distinct from that of great apes and reached that state through an evident exaggeration of pre-existing acoustic features after the hominin separation from ancestors shared with bonobos and chimps, about 4.5 to 6 million years ago, Davila Ross says. For instance, humans make laughter sounds on the exhale. While chimps do that too, they can also laugh with an alternating flow of air, both in and out. Humans also use more regular voicing in comparison to apes, meaning that the vocal cords regularly vibrate.

Davila Ross said they were surprised to find that gorillas and bonobos can sustain exhalations during vocalization that are three to four times longer than a normal breath cycle -- an ability that had been thought to be a uniquely human adaptation, important to our capacity to speak.

"Taken together," the researchers wrote, "the acoustic and phylogenetic results provide clear evidence of a common evolutionary origin for tickling-induced laughter in humans and tickling-induced vocalizations in great apes. While most pronounced acoustic differences were found between humans and great apes, interspecific differences in vocal acoustics nonetheless supported a quantitatively derived phylogenetic tree that coincides with the well-established, genetically based relationship among these species. At a minimum, one can conclude that it is appropriate to consider 'laughter' to be a cross-species phenomenon, and that it is therefore not anthropomorphic to use this term for tickling-induced vocalizations produced by the great apes."

The researchers include Marina Davila Ross, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, UK, Institute of Zoology, University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Hannover, Germany; Michael J Owren, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA; and Elke Zimmermann, Institute of Zoology, University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Hannover, Germany.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cell Press. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Marina Davila Ross, Michael J Owren, and Elke Zimmermann. Reconstructing the Evolution of Laughter in Great Apes and Humans. Current Biology, 2009; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2009.05.028

Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "Ticklish Apes? Young Apes Hoot Holler And Laugh In Way Similar To Human Infants." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 June 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090604124013.htm>.
Cell Press. (2009, June 5). Ticklish Apes? Young Apes Hoot Holler And Laugh In Way Similar To Human Infants. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090604124013.htm
Cell Press. "Ticklish Apes? Young Apes Hoot Holler And Laugh In Way Similar To Human Infants." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090604124013.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Stone Fruit Listeria Scare Causes Sweeping Recall

Stone Fruit Listeria Scare Causes Sweeping Recall

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The Wawona Packing Company has issued a voluntary recall on the stone fruit it distributes due to a possible Listeria outbreak. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

AP (July 22, 2014) An 80-year-old agave plant, which is blooming for the first and only time at a University of Michigan conservatory, will die when it's done (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The 83 new genetic markers could open dozens of new avenues for schizophrenia treatment research. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
CDC Head Concerned About a Post-Antibiotic Era

CDC Head Concerned About a Post-Antibiotic Era

AP (July 22, 2014) Sounding alarms about the growing threat of antibiotic resistance, CDC Director Tom Frieden warned Tuesday if the global community does not confront the problem soon, the world will be living in a devastating post-antibiotic era. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins