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Abstract # 1262 Event # 35:

Scheduled for Monday, June 26, 2006 03:40 PM-04:00 PM: Session 4 (Kama B)


Laughter in Great Apes

M. Davila Ross, B. Förderreuther and E. Zimmermann
Institute of Zoology, Buenteweg 17, Veterinary School of Medicine Hannover, Hannover 30559, Germany
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     A central question in evolutionary biology is to what extent humans share coding and decoding strategies in affective communication with great apes. Laughter is of special interest for such a comparative approach as it can be found across all human cultures and its facial display is homologous with the play face of nonhuman primates (e.g. Preuschoft & van Hooff, 1995). Like in humans, nonhuman primate facial laughter may be accompanied by specific vocalizations. In great apes, these vocalizations are panting sounds, resembling human laughter in rhythmical pattern (chimpanzee: Vettin et al., 1999), in the array of acoustically distinct types (chimpanzee: Preuschoft & van Hooff, 1995), and in overall first impression when looking at sonagrams of human infant laughter (bonobo: Forderreuther & Zimmermann, 2003). Human snort- and grunt-like laughter are similar to these presumably homologous vocalizations of great apes (e.g. Provine, 1996; Bachorowski & Owren, 2001). Applying bioacoustical methods, we are conducting a comparative approach across hominids to study the acoustical properties of vocal laughter and the phylogenetic modifications of the presence and manifestations of laughter across hominid taxa. Our preliminary data suggest that laughter of orangutans has a larger interval duration of consecutive elements within a bout and less frequently occurring intra-bout elements than laughter of gorillas, bonobos, and chimpanzees. Furthermore, laughter of all African great apes seems to be similar in its rhythmical pattern.