Laughter is not an exclusively human expression

Laughter is one of the most natural impulses of the human being. Most babies start laughing out loud around 3 or 4 months, long before they can talk or walk. Expressing pleasure or delight comes naturally to us, but we’re not the only creatures who communicate with laughter.

UCLA researchers have identified 65 species of animals that make “play vocalizations,” or what we would consider laughter.

Some of those vocalizations were already well documented – we’ve long known that apes and rats laugh – but others may come as a surprise. Along with a long list of primate species, cows and domestic dogs, foxes, seals, mongooses, and three species of birds are also prone to laughter.

UCLA primatologist and anthropology graduate student Sasha Winkler and UCLA professor of communication Greg Bryant shared their findings in a study in the journal Bioacoustics.

The authors explored various game vocalization sounds, recording them as loud or tonal, loud or quiet, high or low pitch, short or long, a single call or rhythmic pattern.

However, laughter in some animals is not as obvious as it is in these foxes and chimpanzees. Researchers at the Humboldt University of Berlin found that rats laugh when tickled, and seem to enjoy the tickle as they seek it out, but their vocalizations are ultrasonic, making them difficult to hear without special instruments.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *