What’s this? Chimpanzees catch yawns from humans
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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