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What I Learned From Tickling Apes

TICKLING a juvenile chimpanzee is a lot like tickling a child. The ape has the same sensitive spots: under the armpits, on the side, in the belly. He opens his mouth wide, lips relaxed, panting audibly in the same “huh-huh-huh” rhythm of inhalation and exhalation as human laughter. The similarity makes it hard not to giggle yourself.

Laughter? Now wait a minute! A real scientist should avoid any and all anthropomorphism, which is why hard-nosed colleagues often ask us to change our terminology. Why not call the ape’s reaction something neutral, like, say, vocalized panting? That way we avoid confusion between the human and the animal.

What I Learned From Tickling Apes -

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Humans: Not So Special

Here is a simplified version of the antiquated Scala Naturae, a ranking by presumed superiority that has been accepted in various forms for centuries. But advanced skills once associated only with humans are found in many animals, defying such rankings. Here is a selection


No face recognition for dolphins and whales? How curious!

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