A whole lot of giggling goin’ on

Following on the heels of the Rats giggle too post comes this NPR story on great apes laughing when they’re tickled. It’s based on research published in Current Biology comparing the laughter of humans, bonobos, gorillas, chimps, and orangutans. A neuroscientist named Marina Davila Ross, of the University of Portsmouth in the United Kingdom, visited zoos and watched young apes get tickled by caretakers. She recorded the sounds of babies from all five species and compared the acoustic features.

The results? Everyone’s cracking up! She says the apes were having a great time. And by the looks of it, so were the caretakers.

Here’s a video from Discovery News:

And in case you couldn’t hear the gorilla laughing, here is Discovery News’s follow-up video a couple of days later:

Robert Provine, a neuroscientist at the University of Maryland who studies laughter, sums it up. He says,

I think that it’s about time we get out there, start tickling the dogs and the cats, and the pigs, the rats, as well as the chimpanzees. I think we’ll learn a lot about what we have in common, as well as our differences.

For more info, see “A 10-million-year-old laugh” at Science magazine.


2 Responses to A whole lot of giggling goin’ on

  1. chris says:June 12, 2009 at 7:01 am

    Hi Priscilla. I was feeling very down this morning, and asked the “heavenly hosts” to send me something to feel happy about. First thing I turned on to on my computer was your giggling ape post, followed up by the giggling rats. My prayer was answered; funny how that works, isn’t it? Chris

  2. Melanie Mulhall says:June 12, 2009 at 12:01 pm


    Wonderful! One wonders if the apes would respond to the old Johnny Carson-Dom Deluise egg trick clip that is making the rounds online. And do they laugh when they see humans wearing flowered pants and striped shirts? And what about in response to human laughter? The questions are endless.