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Laughing Animals

November 1, 2005

Have you ever felt like your dog was lauging at you? Well, you may not be far off.


The origins of laughter. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Is laughter unique to humans? Robert Provine of the University of Maryland Baltimore County recently told us that it’s not.

ROBERT PROVINE (University of Maryland Baltimore County):
Whether you’re dealing with humans or other animals, it’s important that a signal be made that this is play, this isn’t a physical attack.

HIRSHON: That’s laughter—or at least its precursor. Our laughter evolved from the sounds that other primates like chimps make when playing.

[Chimpanzee panting]

And it will be no surprise to dog lovers that dogs make laugh-like sounds.

[Dog laughter]

Scientists recently found that even rats giggle.

[Rat giggles]

If you have a science question, call us at 1-800-why-isit. If we use it on the air, you’ll win a Science Update mug. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.