Which came first, language or laughter?
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.