Which animal can laugh?

Short answer: Gorillas, Apes, Dolphins, Rats, Monkeys, Dogs.

Have you ever tried to tell a joke to an animal? Can animals laugh? There are many different types of laughter, generally speaking, these types of laughter fall into two broad categories. There’s complex social laughter as we have to know the context or have a sense of humor to get the joke.

Dolphins laugh their tails off! pic/pexels

Then there’s laughter in response to physical stimulation like tickling. Some animals, such as primates, seem to have a legit sense of humor, meaning they can respond to situations with a pant that sounds eerily similar to laughter. You can read numerous stories about animals like Coco the gorilla allegedly making jokes in sign language and so on.

Additionally, when adult animals like dolphins or Ravens play pranks, they indicate an understanding of humor. Laughter itself seems more common than humans had thought initially.

Rats have been laughing their furry little keisters off since the dawn of recorded history, but we only figured this out a few years back; it turns out that rats like being tickled, and when they’re tickled, they chirp at a range too high for human ears to pick up around 50 kilohertz we know this thanks to the work of Jack Panksepp and Geoffrey Bergdorf beginning in the late 90s at Bowling Green State University. We’re talking about that second category of laughter, a positive vocalization associated with a touch.

Dr Marina Davila Ross, a psychologist at the University of Portsmouth, has been studying the evolution of laughter for years Dr Ross has been gathering as much data as possible about the reactions various animals have when tickled; the list of animals that make a vocal reaction when tickled include meerkats, dolphins, camels, dogs, owls, and penguins.

So what’s the explanation according to Michael Oren an associate professor of psychology and neuroscience from Georgia State say it may be simple at least when applied to mammals it just means that there’s a pleasant feeling evoked by touching and laughter it seems may well be millions of years old and existed before human beings which means that when we think about it, we’re sort of the last people to get the joke.

To be fair most scientists aren’t calling this straight out laughter instead they’re suggesting that these are positive vocalizations.

Dr Ross writes expressions of joy, and when we asked whether laughter is a sign of intelligence, Panksepp notes that intelligence is not a requirement for laughter. Instead, he suggests maybe “just play” in any species can increase social intelligence.

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