Animals That Are Capable Of Laughing
If you have a dog, you may have had situations in which your dog looked as if he was laughing, or at least smiling. If not, you may have stumbled upon viral videos of dogs that laugh after their owners do a trick or something funny. But can animals actually laugh? Or is it just a reaction that reminds us of our human laughter?
Apparently, scientists have tried to test whether chimanzees and rats can laugh. And here’s what they found.
Animals That Can Laugh
1. Orangutans, Gorillas and Chimpanzees
A psychologist at the U.K.’s University of Portsmouth, Marina Davila Ross that has been studying the evolution of laughter, conducted experiments in which she tested whether primates would laugh after being tickled.
In the experiments she tickled infant and young orangutans, gorillas and chimpanzees only to find out the apes were actually responding with something similar to human laughter. Scientifically they called this reaction as “tickled-induced vocalization”.
However, we can’t help but see this reaction as laughter. See for yourself in the video below.
This research reminds us of Koko, the gorilla known for her ability to communicate with sign language. Namely, the gorilla was responding to people being clumsy with laughing noises, and she also demonstrated an ability to make jokes.
In her latest research, Ross found that chimpanzees actually communicate with their laugh-faces/smiles. They use their smile with or without actual laughing sounds in order to communicate their emotions more explicitly.
We were utterly surprised to discover that the unpopular rodents were actually capable of laughing. Ok, it is probably not the “haha” laughter you would get from tickling a rat, but a research has shown that rats produce happy noises while being tickled too.
Jaak Panskepp, a pshychologist and neuroscientist at Washington State University in Pullman, conducted a study in which scientists tickled the rodents. (What a fun job to do!) And the animals made the same happy sounds that they make when they play.
Not only, but some rats loved being tickled so much that they followed the hand of scientists in hope to get another tickling session.
Panskepp and his colleagues are using the conclusions of their research to study human emotions. Analyzing brain circuits that make laughing possible, they can identify chemicals that can help infighting depression in people.
Panskepp also states that although people usually link intelligence with laughter, it isn’t a requirement for being able to laugh.
Dolphins are known as being incredibly smart animals with unrivaled emotional and intellectual skills in the marine world. People that used to work or encountered a lot of dolphins have noticed that these animals emit a lot of different sounds, one especially sounding similar to what we would call a “chuckle”.
Marine researchers in Sweden observed the way dolphins communicate and they believe these mammals actually laugh. However, the assumption they made is that the “chuckle” sound is actually crucial for dolphins to indicate their intentions as non-threatening. They emit these sounds only during play which leads us to think it’s their way of smiling.
4. Corvids – Crows, Ravens and Magpies
Corvids are seen as one of the world’s smartest birds. Different researches have shown that these birds have complex social hierarchies, and that they may even have a sense of humor.
Not only can they imitate human sounds that sound like laughter, but they are actually quite mischievous and do certain things just for the sake of fun and personal enjoyment.
For instance, crows were seen pulling the tails of other potentially dangerous animals. While some scientists tried to justify this as a tactic crows use to steal food, others have noted that crows actually do the same even when there is no food in the picture.
Dogs are very playful animals, nothing new there. Every dog owner knows that their dogs use special sounds to communicate with them, and it looks like some of these sounds can actually be seen as a form of laughter.
One study researched the way canines responded to certain sounds such as barks, growls or panting. The scientists would record their reactions and then make conclusions about what triggered one specific reaction.
They found that dogs may not laugh in the way we expect them to, but they have a breathy exhale that they usually use at the beginning of their playtime. When canines hear that sounds they immediately try to start playing with the source of the sound. However, little is known about how dogs perceive humor and if they actually find some things funny.