You tickle someone and it is like a magic laughter button. What is that all about? When we are tickled it is a thrill and turmoil at the same time, but the result is always laughter and a giddy feeling. This silly pastime that gives us so much joy isn’t just for humans. Scientists have been discovering tickle-induced laughter throughout the Animal Kingdom and in doing so, are beginning to shed some light on the origins of laughter.
Researchers in the UK actually get to tickle animals in the name of science. They have been focusing their efforts on gorillas at a local wildlife park seeing how they vocalize in response to touch in order to learn more about how laughter may have evolved in humans. They found that gorillas are very much like us and there was even a study published in 2009 in Current Biology comparing the sounds made during laughter.
The gorillas behave in the same way that humans do when they are being tickled. They feel joy and laugh and act just like us. They believe that laughter is an evolutionary advantage of ‘positive expression’ that helped social species better communicate. Now they are fairly certain that laughter is at least 30 million to 60 million years old.