The great apes would also be teasing

The great apes would also be teasing

Rabelais believed that laughter is unique to Man. But ethologists wonder if animals can have a sense of humor like us. A US-German research team says great apes are real jokers.

Researchers from the American universities of Indiana and California in Los Angeles and San Diego as well as the Max Planck Institute came to this conclusion after studying the behavior of several orangutans, chimpanzees, bonobos and gorillas.

They found that these great apes are adept at playing. They sometimes target one of their fellow apes and try to provoke a reaction in it by waving, for example, an object or part of their body in front of them. his eyes, or by giving him little blows. These mock blows are executed without anger, even if they can become more or less insistent.

The academics concluded that these behaviors result from a need for play. “Like teasing in children, playful teasing in great apes involves unilateral provocation, an expectation of response in which the tease looks at the target’s face directly after performing a teasing action, as well as repetition and elements of surprise,” explains Isabelle Laumer, co-author of the study, in a press release.

But, unlike children, great apes do not necessarily wait for their target to initiate a shared play session. “In great apes, teasing is unilateral, it is often done by the tease for the entire duration of the interaction and is rarely reciprocal.“, underlines Erica Cartmill, associate professor at the University of California at Los Angeles, in the same press release.

This is why great apes do not have particular facial expressions when they gently annoy their fellow apes. However, they only seem to tease when they are relaxed, as we can read in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, where Erica Cartmill and her colleagues published their study.

Researchers see the fact that great apes are as joking as we are as a sign that our last common ancestor had the cognitive prerequisites for teasing. They hope their work will inspire other scientists to study the evolution of this behavior in other animal species.

Good in his body, good in his head!