Chimps interact with dominant males by yawning
London, July 29 (ANI): Yawning is a way of communication for chimpanzees, according to researchers.
It is not yet known why yawning is contagious in chimps and other animals.
"People claim that it is some sort of measure of empathy," New Scientist quoted Jorg Massen at Utrecht University in the Netherlands as saying.
In order to test the theory, Massen and his colleagues observed a group of chimpanzees at Burgers' Zoo in Arnhem, the Netherlands.
They filmed each of the 15 chimpanzees yawning - something the animals tend to do before they set off after a period of rest. The researchers then played back the clips to the chimps individually to see whether the animals would yawn in response.
More surprising is that clips of male chimps yawning were about twice as likely to induce yawns as clips of female yawns.
According to the team, this might be linked to the fact that dominant chimps are always male. Contagious yawns may help the group act in step with its dominant male and get the group moving after a period of rest, Massen said.
Now he hopes to explore whether a similar link between yawning and social status exists in humans.
"I wouldn't be surprised if the yawns of President Obama would be more contagious than those of the average American," he stated. (ANI)
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