Which came first, lan­guage or laugh­ter?

Focus-Science and Technology - - Q & A -

Most an­thro­pol­o­gists think that lan­guage orig­i­nated within the last few hun­dred thou­sand years, but it looks like we’ve been laugh­ing for much longer. In 2009, psy­chol­o­gist Dr Ma­rina Dav­ila-Ross at the Univer­sity of Portsmouth recorded the vo­cal­i­sa­tions of baby ape species while they were be­ing tick­led. By analysing their sounds, she found that great ape laughs share the same struc­ture as hu­man laughs, and that th­ese are most sim­i­lar in the chim­panzees and bono­bos, our clos­est an­i­mal rel­a­tives. Her work sug­gests that laugh­ter arose from a com­mon pri­mate an­ces­tor mil­lions of years ago – long be­fore lan­guage evolved.

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