Reply Fri 8 Apr, 2005 04:28 pm
These scientists think so:

No Joke: Animals Laugh, Too
By Robert Roy Britt
LiveScience Senior Writer
posted: 31 March 2005
02:00 pm ET

Life can be funny, and not just for humans.

Studies by various groups suggest monkeys, dogs and even rats love a good laugh. People, meanwhile, have been laughing since before they could talk.

"Indeed, neural circuits for laughter exist in very ancient regions of the brain, and ancestral forms of play and laughter existed in other animals eons before we humans came along with our 'ha-ha-has' and verbal repartee," says Jaak Panksepp, a neuroscientist at Bowling Green State University.

When chimps play and chase each other, they pant in a manner that is strikingly like human laughter, Panksepp writes in the April 1 issue of the journal Science. Dogs have a similar response.

Rats chirp while they play, again in a way that resembles our giggles. Panksepp found in a previous study that when rats are playfully tickled, they chirp and bond socially with their human tickler. And they seem to like it, seeking to be tickled more. Apparently joyful rats also preferred to hang out with other chirpers.

Laughter in humans starts young, another clue that it's a deep-seated brain function.

"Young children, whose semantic sense of humor is marginal, laugh and shriek abundantly in the midst of their other rough-and-tumble activities," Panksepp notes.

Importantly, various recent studies on the topic suggest that laughter in animals typically involves similar play chasing. Could be that verbal jokes tickle ancient, playful circuits in our brains.

More study is needed to figure out whether animals are really laughing. The results could explain why humans like to joke around. And Panksepp speculates it might even lead to the development of treatments for laughter's dark side: depression.

Meanwhile, there's the question of what's so darn funny in the animal world.

"Although no one has investigated the possibility of rat humor, if it exists, it is likely to be heavily laced with slapstick," Panksepp figures. "Even if adult rodents have no well-developed cognitive sense of humor, young rats have a marvelous sense of fun."

Science has traditionally deemed animals incapable of joy and woe.

Panksepp's response: "Although some still regard laughter as a uniquely human trait, honed in the Pleistocene, the joke’s on them."

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Type: Discussion • Score: 6 • Views: 4,267 • Replies: 32
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Reply Fri 8 Apr, 2005 04:42 pm
Many years ago I owned a mutt pup who was one of the smartest dogs I'd ever met. Cassandra liked to ride along with me for grocery shopping.

One day I came back with a load of groceries. We got out of the truck and I ordered Cassandra up on the porch. She gave me a wicked look and streaked around the corner of the house, out of sight.

I struggled up the sidewalk with my crutch and the groceries and before I reached the perch, Cassandra had circled the house and was on the porch waiting for me.

She was enormously pleased with herself.
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Merry Andrew
Reply Fri 8 Apr, 2005 04:44 pm
How 'bout cockroaches? They must find us humans pretty funny.

And what about donkeys? Are they laughing their asses off because...oh, never mind.
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satt fs
Reply Fri 8 Apr, 2005 05:20 pm
They must be smiling, if not laughing..

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Reply Fri 8 Apr, 2005 05:27 pm

this girl dog definitely laughs, and so does her brother
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Reply Fri 8 Apr, 2005 05:56 pm
You know, satt fs, I was thinking of the Australian cattle dog (or blue or red heelers) as soon as read the article - they are very, very clever dogs - and often appear to be laughing, in a jocularly cynical sort of way, at the world.

I find it quite persuasive that laughter in humans starts so early - and must be in quite an early part of the brain.

The chimp laugh when chasing and playing is pretty persuasive, too.

What do folk think of rats, and other animals that play a lot, especially when young?
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Reply Fri 8 Apr, 2005 07:43 pm
I'm not sure about the laugh part, but there certainly must be a sense of humour at work with some. One of our cats used to love putting toys into my work boots. I would unknowingly stick my feet into them and get a funny surprise! Laughing
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Reply Fri 8 Apr, 2005 07:45 pm
Lol - I had a cat who used to love to hide and jump out at me.
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Reply Fri 8 Apr, 2005 07:46 pm
Careful observation of my lab cross convinces me that she has happy, sad and jealous moments. I am not sure if she is actually laughing, but she has reactions at the appropriate times. Laughing
Reply Fri 8 Apr, 2005 08:03 pm
Cats do not laugh. Dogs do. I warn you, their sense of humor can be on the heavy side.
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Reply Fri 8 Apr, 2005 11:35 pm
yes. i have seen it.

when my kuvasz kodi was a year old she suddenly appeared at my front door. this was strange, considering she was supposed to be in the fenced back yard.

i let her back in the front door and promptly returned her to the 5-foot high fenced yard, where i observed her too promptly jumping the fence with nary a hair touching the fence.

she returned to my front door thinking "what a neat girl am i."

and i thought, "what a nasty guy am i" as i set about stringing up an electrified wire over the top of the fence.

my other kuvasz, Aja (see pix to left) smarter, older, and more experienced in the wily ways of "Daddy" watched me closely as I nailed in the holders for the electical wire and strung up the wire.

once plugged into the electical outlet, i tested the wire and got quite a shock.

i went inside and watched Kodi approach the fence and noticed Aja barking at Kodi as if to warn her about the fence.

Kodi ignored her sister's barking and began to scale the fence, and when she got to the top she hit the electrified wire, collapsed in a heap, howled and ran into the house.

Aja ran to the window from which i was looking out and i swear grinned at me and laughed out loud.

i will never forget that look on Aja's face.
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Reply Fri 8 Apr, 2005 11:55 pm
Lol - great story!

Seems dogs tend towards the slapstick, too!
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Reply Sat 9 Apr, 2005 12:00 am
I think my dog laughs. Her ears go back and down, she sort of ducks her head - she has a good sense of humor.
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Slappy Doo Hoo
Reply Sat 9 Apr, 2005 12:10 am
Ask anyone who owns a pet, and not only do their pets laugh, but they talk non-verbally. They actually go out of their way to translate for their pets.

"Then Blackie looked at me like, 'that was funny'."

No she wasn't, stupid. It's a dog.

Dogs, cats, they don't "laugh."
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Reply Sat 9 Apr, 2005 12:23 am
Do Slappies?
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Slappy Doo Hoo
Reply Sat 9 Apr, 2005 12:24 am
Hell yea.
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Reply Fri 15 Apr, 2005 11:43 am
What do you do if your dog is racist?

My dog listens to dissident satellite radio programs; he's an anti-semite, and possibly a member of the National Alliance.
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Reply Fri 15 Apr, 2005 11:46 am
My dog laughs - along with the child

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Reply Fri 15 Apr, 2005 12:14 pm
Adorable, Jane!

KUVASZ!!!! OMG, where ya been? Long time no see.

(And, yes, our dog laughs, cries, smiles, and gives hilarious hateful looks to Bear when he calls her dumb)
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Reply Fri 15 Apr, 2005 12:39 pm
parrots, parakeets, cockatoos, and the like can literally laugh, of course. they also bite now & then, and if you say Ouch they learn to repeat that. at that point, if you should start laughing because your bird went Ouch, they'll start laughing. eventually, the routine becomes, bird bites, human goes ouch, and then bird laughs. is the bird having fun? probably.

we haven't gotten to that stage with my cockatoo, i'm usually quick enough to avoid the bite. Laughing
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