Laughter helps us create bonds, strengthens our mental well-being, and can even help strengthen our bodies physically.
After all, people are 30 percent more likely to laugh when with a group than alone.
These days, some therapists even prescribe “homeplay” rather than “homework,” to encourage people to experience the mental benefits of laughter.
The evolutionary origins of laughter aren’t well understood, but scientists theorize laughter evolved as a way to strengthen bonds between groups and individuals.
The origin of laughter appears to have occurred sometime between 10 and 16 million years ago.
Some animals, like kookaburra and hyenas, may vocalize in a way that to our ears sounds like laughter, but for these animals the sounds don’t function as laughter.
When rats engage in play behavior or are tickled by a human, they emit a sound which can only be picked up by special microphones.
Baby chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans also make distinct, laughter-like vocalizations when tickled by humans.
The infamously mischievous kea parrot of New Zealand doesn’t exactly laugh, but it does produce a special “play call” which triggers play behavior in other keas — like infectious laughter.
Read more animal stories here.