Chimps Can Catch Yawns Too

Thursday, October 17, 2013 - 15:30 in Paleontology & Archaeology

Sleepy Chimp purpleairplane via Wikimedia Commons I love the idea of contagious yawning. Who's a sleepy baby? Everyone's a sleepy baby! Every uncontrolled, open-mouthed breath I take can be spread to all around me, forcing them to also expose the back of their throats in a mildly undignified manner, regardless of their level of sleepiness. The contagious plague of yawning can even leap across species from us to our close relative, the chimpanzee, according to research from Lund University in Sweden. Cross-species yawning had previously only been observed in dog-human interactions, but in a study of 33 orphaned chimpanzees in Sierra Leone, the yawns of the chimps' human surrogate mother and an unfamiliar human both prompted subsequent yawning in the animals. Forty-eight percent of juvenile chimpanzees, between 5 and 8 years old, yawned in response to a human researcher's...

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