I, for one, couldn’t be happier to read this. I do not have much respect for those who believe animals can not feel pain or emotion. Pain…is a no brainer! They will cry out when hurting, the are lethargic when they are sick. Now it turns out, they can even laugh when tickled! Yeah for our animal friends!
Make sure to click the link at the bottom to see the rat laughing. This is re-blogged from The New York Times
Aristotle declared that humans are the only animal to laugh, but then, he never saw this video of Jaak Panksepp tickling rats.
When you play it, you’ll hear the tickled rats chirping — an ultrasonic noise that’s audible thanks to the special equipment that enabled Dr. Panksepp and his colleagues to discover this phenomenon. Young rats make the same chirp when they chase and play with one another, and they like to hang out with other rats who chirp at this frequency (50 kHz). It seems to be a happy sound: rats will run mazes and press levers in order to be tickled, and they’ll emit the same chirp when the dopamine reward circuits in the brain are stimulated.
Some researchers still aren’t sure these sounds qualify as animal laughter, but Dr. Panksepp, a neuroscientist at Washington State University, has been systematically gathering evidence of the parallels to human laughter. He hypothesizes that our most sophisticated forms of verbal humor tickle ancient brain circuits like the ones in the chirping rats. In a paper published in Science two years ago, he observed:
Although no one has investigated the possibility of rat humor, if it exists, it is likely to be heavily laced with slapstick. Even if adult rodents have no well-developed cognitive sense of humor, young rats have a marvelous sense of fun. We have already bred rats that exhibit playful chirping, and thereby hope to track down some of the genes for joy. Perhaps we will even stumble on new molecules to alleviate depression as well as some excessive-exuberance disorders.
He concluded his paper with a jab at the successors of Aristotle who consider giggling to be a recent evolutionary development of the human brain: “Although some still regard laughter as a uniquely human trait, honed in the Pleistocene, the joke’s on them.” You can hear it for yourself by clicking below.
Video From Discovery Channel: Laughing Rat (Quicktime) CLICK LINK FOR VIDEO OF RAT LAUGHTER