fox, laughter

Fox giggles like children on helium.

Laughter is one of the most natural impulses in humans. Most babies start to laugh out loud at around 3 to 4 months, far earlier than they are able to speak or walk. Expressing enjoyment or delight comes naturally to us, but we're not the only creatures who communicate with giggles.

Researchers at UCLA have identified 65 species of animals who make "play vocalizations," or what we would consider laughter. Some of those vocalizations were already well documented—we've known for a while that apes and rats laugh—but others may come as a surprise. Along with a long list of primate species, domestic cows and dogs, foxes, seals, mongooses and three bird species are prone to laughter as well. (Many bird species can mimic human laughter, but that's not the same as making their own play vocalizations.)

Primatologist and UCLA anthropology graduate student Sasha Winkler and UCLA professor of communication Greg Bryant shared their findings in an article in the journal Bioacoustics.


The authors explored various play vocalization sounds, recording them as noisy or tonal, loud or quiet, high- or low-pitched, short or long, a single call or rhythmic pattern.

But really, what we want to see is what animal laughter sounds like from various species, right? While the researchers said that it can be hard to document laughter in the wild, especially among animals with quieter vocalizations, we do have some examples captured on video.

Check out these foxes laughing like little kids:

Or maybe little kids on helium. How fun is that?

Ever seen a bonobo chimp laugh? Just as cute.

I'm not sure if tickling a baby bonobo is sweet or torturous, though these researchers surely know what they're doing. It's always delightful to see the instinctual playfulness of primates.

Laughter in some animals isn't as audibly apparent as it is in these foxes and chimps, though. Researchers from Humboldt University of Berlin found that rats laugh when they are tickled—and appear to enjoy tickling, as they seek it out—but their vocalizations are ultrasonic, so it's hard to hear them without special instruments.

The UCLA researchers shared that the study of laughter in animals can help us better understand our own evolutionary behavior.

“This work lays out nicely how a phenomenon once thought to be particularly human turns out to be closely tied to behavior shared with species separated from humans by tens of millions of years,” Bryant said, according to UCLA.

“When we laugh, we are often providing information to others that we are having fun and also inviting others to join,” Winkler said. “Some scholars have suggested that this kind of vocal behavior is shared across many animals who play, and as such, laughter is our human version of an evolutionarily old vocal play signal.”

Raise your hand if you just want to see a cow laughing for real now.

Joy

Man uses TikTok to offer 'dinner with dad' to any kid that needs one, even adult ones

Summer Clayton is the father of 2.4 million kids and he couldn’t be more proud.

Come for the food, stay for the wholesomeness.

Summer Clayton is the father of 2.4 million kids and he couldn’t be more proud. His TikTok channel is dedicated to giving people intimate conversations they might long to have with their own father, but can’t. The most popular is his “Dinner With Dad” segment.

The concept is simple: Clayton, aka Dad, always sets down two plates of food. He always tells you what’s for dinner. He always blesses the food. He always checks in with how you’re doing.

I stress the stability here, because as someone who grew up with a less-than-stable relationship with their parents, it stood out immediately. I found myself breathing a sigh of relief at Clayton’s consistency. I also noticed the immediate emotional connection created just by being asked, “How was your day?” According to relationship coach and couples counselor Don Olund, these two elements—stability and connection—are fundamental cravings that children have of their parents. Perhaps we never really stop needing it from them.


Keep Reading Show less
Joy

Meet Eva, the hero dog who risked her life saving her owner from a mountain lion

Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva when a mountain lion suddenly appeared.

Photo by Didssph on Unsplash

A sweet face and fierce loyalty: Belgian Malinois defends owner.

The Belgian Malinois is a special breed of dog. It's highly intelligent, extremely athletic and needs a ton of interaction. While these attributes make the Belgian Malinois the perfect dog for police and military work, they can be a bit of a handful as a typical pet.

As Belgian Malinois owner Erin Wilson jokingly told NPR, they’re basically "a German shepherd on steroids or crack or cocaine.”

It was her Malinois Eva’s natural drive, however, that ended up saving Wilson’s life.

According to a news release from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva slightly ahead of her when a mountain lion suddenly appeared and swiped Wilson across the left shoulder. She quickly yelled Eva’s name and the dog’s instincts kicked in immediately. Eva rushed in to defend her owner.

It wasn’t long, though, before the mountain lion won the upper hand, much to Wilson’s horror.

She told TODAY, “They fought for a couple seconds, and then I heard her start crying. That’s when the cat latched on to her skull.”

Keep Reading Show less

TikTok about '80s childhood is a total Gen X flashback.

As a Gen X parent, it's weird to try to describe my childhood to my kids. We're the generation that didn't grow up with the internet or cell phones, yet are raising kids who have never known a world without them. That difference alone is enough to make our 1980s childhoods feel like a completely different planet, but there are other differences too that often get overlooked.

How do you explain the transition from the brown and orange aesthetic of the '70s to the dusty rose and forest green carpeting of the '80s if you didn't experience it? When I tell my kids there were smoking sections in restaurants and airplanes and ashtrays everywhere, they look horrified (and rightfully so—what were we thinking?!). The fact that we went places with our friends with no quick way to get ahold of our parents? Unbelievable.

One day I described the process of listening to the radio, waiting for my favorite song to come on so I could record it on my tape recorder, and how mad I would get when the deejay talked through the intro of the song until the lyrics started. My Spotify-spoiled kids didn't even understand half of the words I said.

And '80s hair? With the feathered bangs and the terrible perms and the crunchy hair spray? What, why and how?

Keep Reading Show less