What’s this? Chimpanzees catch yawns from humans

Chimps start catching yawns from humans after about the age of five, indicating that empathy among chimps progresses with age.

Chimpanzees catch yawns from humans just like humans catch yawns from humans, new research shows.
Chimpanzees are amongst several primate species — including baboons and macaques — that have been shown to catch yawns from individuals within their own species. Researchers think this uncontrollable reaction helps communicate a sense of empathy that strengthens group bonds in both humans and primates.
To determine whether this phenomenon — known as contagious yawning — crosses species lines in chimpanzees, researchers at Lund University in Sweden studied 33 orphaned chimps between the ages of 13 months and 8 years, and observed each individual’s reaction to yawns from two different humans: one who they knew well (their surrogate mother), and one who they did not know at all (a researcher).

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About jensera

Jennifer Harrington is a Toronto-based illustrator, writer and graphic designer. She illustrated the best-selling children’s book series 'A Moose in a Maple Tree,' which includes the titles 'A Moose in a Maple Tree,' 'The Night Before a Canadian Christmas' and 'Canadian Jingle Bells.' She is also the owner of JSH Graphics, a boutique graphic design agency that specializes in print and web advertising. With her latest project, Eco Books 4 Kids, Jennifer has partnered with illustrator Michael Arnott to create a series of ecologically-themed ebooks for children. Her next book, 'Spirit Bear,' is due for release in the Summer of 2013. Jennifer offers two different school presentations for her 'Moose in a Maple Tree' collection, an illustration demonstration and a Christmas concert series, which can be booked at www.amooseinamapletree.com. She will be taking bookings for school readings of 'Spirit Bear' beginning in October 2013.

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