Do Animals Have A Sense Of Humor?

Understanding the emotions of animals is a complex process, to say the least. So it’s natural to wonder if they feel the same way we do, like their sense of humor.
Do animals have a sense of humor?

Today, we still don’t understand the feelings in the animal world. Trying to compare the complex world of human emotions with those of other animals ultimately takes us to a point where it may seem that other beings don’t feel like humans.

This is due to our anthropocentric position and the way we extrapolate our feelings towards other animals. We cannot pretend that animals have a sense of humor comparable to humans, as abstract thinking and the complexity of our language do not allow it.

On the contrary, there is scientific evidence and observations that show us that  animals have complex feelings and emotions. This is because they have the entire hormonal complex and neurotransmitters that give rise to emotions.

mood and feelings

The sense of humor is the human being’s ability to express or feel “the comic”. Or, which is the same thing, transforming emotionally difficult situations so as not to be defeated.

When something amuses us, mechanisms that make us feel good are activated in our brain. This also occurs in other animals, especially those with a developed brain.

Playing and similar behaviors, more present in young people, are part of what we could call the sense of humor in animals. These are fights or struggles involved in a non-aggressive environment that promote the bond between individuals of a social group, in the same way that occurs with humans.

mood and feelings

the laughter in dolphins

There is a video on  YouTube , with over 21 million views, in which we watch a girl doing somersaults and other tricks in front of the glass of a pond of dolphins. One of them seems to be delighted with the girl’s display and makes faces that we could relate to a laugh. Could this show that dolphins have a sense of humor?

A group of scientists at Linköping University in Sweden found that some dolphins emitted very particular sounds when they were fighting non-aggressively, that is, when they appeared to be playing.

After that, they performed an experiment whose results confirmed the hypothesis. When young and semi-adult dolphins play or engage in these non-aggressive fights, they emit a burst of ultrasonic pulses with a final whistle, highly distinct and not seen in real adult combat.

The researchers concluded that, in order to communicate that the situation is not aggressive and that it is just a joke,  the dolphins make this sound that we could define as laughter.

To better understand, if we expose from a human point of view, certain phrases or words can be offensive under certain circumstances. But in another context, no.

The sense of humor in rats

In the late 1990s, scientist Panksepp and his colleagues at the University of Washington devoted themselves to studying the joy in rats and the extent to which they demonstrated it. In this way, they found that  rats emitted sounds at 50 kHz (ultrasound inaudible to humans, but audible to machines) during copulation.

At the same time, they observed that regions associated with joy, well-being and pleasure were activated in the rat’s brain.

Furthermore, they  observed that rats laughed when playing with their companions. Likewise, when the researcher developed a certain bond with the animal so that it would trust it, if it tickled it, the rat would laugh.

The sense of humor in rats

More recent research shows that this tickle, when the rat is in a good mood (as in humans),  activates pleasure-related areas of the brain. This happens whenever and wherever the mouse feels confident.

Given these studies and these demonstrations of the sense of humor in animals, we understand that there is still a lot to be investigated. However, these are clear signs that animals have complex feelings, just like humans.

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