BBC 20080102: ‘Laughs’ not exclusive to humans


Orang Utans are the only Great Apes living in Asia. I’ve always found them unique, both in their choice of habitat and costume. They seem especially anthomorphic. So it’s not surprising to me to read that this observation was due to them

Perhaps this is an aptly fitting reminder that it would be a loss of the most profound level if we were to allow them to continue on their inexorable path to extinct without doing what we can to prevent it. We can’t give them up without a whimper, not lest because they’re on the march into oblivion because of us, our lifestyles and habits. Imagine this: One in Ten Supermarket Products Linked to Orang-utan Extinction.

Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 January 2008, 12:55 GMT
‘Laughs’ not exclusive to humans

Orang-utan  Image: Oliver Lang/AFP/Getty Images

An open mouth resembles laughter

The basis for laughter may have originated in an ancient primate ancestral to both humans and modern apes, a study suggests.

Scientists found that orang-utans had a sense of empathy and mimicry which forms an essential part of laughter.

Facial expressions, such as the open, gaping mouth resembling laughter, were picked up and copied by orang-utans.

The speed with which they were mimicked suggests these expressions were involuntary, Biology Letters reports.

In other words, the “laughter” was contagious.

(read whole article)

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