Tags: parrot | laughter | contagious

Parrot Laughter Is Contagious

Image: Parrot Laughter Is Contagious

Kea mountain parrot in motion in New Zealand. (Ben-ari/Dreamstime.com)

By    |   Tuesday, 21 Mar 2017 08:37 AM

A New Zealand parrot's laughter is contagious, says Nat Geo, displaying a sense of pleasure that until now scientists believed was only possible in mammals.

The kea, from New Zealand's South Island, can make a non-threatening warbling sound when playing with another kea. The sound, like a laugh in humans, can put other parrots within hearing range in a good mood, according to National Geographic magazine.

The ability to show a contagious emotion had only been seen in humans and other mammals like rats, and chimpanzees.

"When kids play and laugh, other kids want to play more," said Raoul Schwing, of the Austria's Messerli Research Institute. “And this still exists in adults: That's why American sitcoms have laugh tracks."

Researchers learned that when kea of both sexes heard play calls, they exhibited more and longer play behavior than when they heard the other calls, noted Science Daily.

"We were able to use a playback of these calls to show that it animates kea that were not playing to do so," Schwing said. "The fact that at least some of these birds started playing spontaneously when no other birds had been playing suggests that, similar to human laughter, it had an emotional effect on the birds that heard it, putting them in a playful state."

"Upon hearing the play call, many birds did not join in play that was already underway, but instead started playing with other non-playing birds, or in the case of solitary play, with an object or by performing aerial acrobatics," the researchers said.

"These instances suggest that kea weren't 'invited' to play, but this specific call induced playfulness, supporting the hypothesis that play vocalizations can act as a positive emotional contagious."

The kea can be often found in New Zealand performing aerial acrobatics and chasing each other, noted National Geographic. Their play with objects is usually solitary, with a bird manipulating an object with its beak and/or feet, but it can also involve birds tossing an object between each other.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the kea is vulnerable to extinction due to human conflict and predation by introduced mammals.

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A New Zealand parrot's laughter is contagious, says Nat Geo, displaying a sense of pleasure that until now scientists believed was only possible in mammals.
parrot, laughter, contagious
360
2017-37-21
Tuesday, 21 Mar 2017 08:37 AM
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