A Blog of Reason From a Godless Liberal

Chimps Probably Think Carlos Mencia is Funny

In evolution, Science on June 4, 2009 at 8:29 pm

Laughter is a biological phenomenon once thought to be unique to humans. Not anymore. Marina Davila Ross, a primatologist and researcher at the University of Portsmouth analyzed 800 recordings of 22 apes and three human babies vocalizing as they are being tickled.

An analysis of the laughter, presented in the latest Current Biology, revealed that human laughter is most similar to that of chimpanzees and bonobos. Next in line, in terms of similarity, are gorillas, followed by orangutans and siamangs, which are lesser apes.

Not only do our ancestors laugh, but their laughs vary by species, and can be show to have evolved from one species to the next, that is unless each species’ laughter was intelligently designed. Everyone knows god loves ape humor, says so in the bible, umm, somewhere near the back. This is of course yet more evidence of human evolution that theists will flat ignore. It’s been a eventful few weeks in this regard.

Given how laughter has evolved over time, it appears that the first relative to apes and humans who guffawed did so in a much longer and slower fashion than we do now, Davila Ross explains. Non-human great apes to this day can laugh while inhaling and exhaling, often for lengthy bouts.

“We found that bonobos and gorillas have the ability to produce laughter while breathing out for more than 10 seconds,” Davila Ross said. “This shows that they can extend their exhalation phases while vocalizing, a trait thought to be unique in humans.”

She added, “The ability to produce such a vocal flow is particularly important in human speech.”

So if I understand this correctly, laughter was a predecessor to speech, indeed it was a necessity. I think along with evolution, this also bolsters the case of animals having more cognition than is commonly believed.

Discovery.com doesn’t let you embed their videos (facist!) but here is a link to watch primate laughter, it is pretty damn cute.

  1. Ah, laughing…. the only sign of an immaterial soul finally crushed.
    Wow, it's finally over. A couple of thousands of years of religious belief down the tube because we see that monkeys can laugh.

    Great reporting, The New Atheist!

  2. That is really awesome to learn. Another link to our primate ancestors!

    I wish the Discovery video would have focused more on the small one(forgive me, I forget which type of ape it is) it looked like it had a really cute laugh.

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