Just like humans, apes playfully tease each other, new study finds 

Just like humans, apes playfully tease each other, new study finds 

Great apes playfully tease each other like children do, according to a new study published on Wednesday in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

The team of researchers studied videos of chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans and bonobos at different zoos. “Poking, hitting, hindering movement, body slam and also pulling on body parts, so similar behaviors that children also show,” Isabelle Laumer, a researcher at the Max Plank Institute of Animal Behaviour, told news agency Reuters.

“When I was coding these videos, I was especially fascinated by the response ‘looking’ as well, because to me it was really interesting that they not just did the action, the teasing, but they really looked for the reaction,” Laumer said. “They look towards the target’s face.”

“They directly approach one specific individual and then usually start teasing. So it’s not that it happens by accident. So this is a behavior that seems to be done in an intentional way and also the persistence that they show,” she added.

Apes are playful

Humans can begin teasing their parents as early as eight months by playfully offering and withdrawing objects. As with human joking behavior, ape teasing is playful, persistent, and includes elements of surprise.

The researchers noted that many years ago, Jane Goodall and other primatologists had mentioned similar behaviors happening in chimpanzees. The new study is the first to research playful teasing among great apes systematically.

The researchers shared a video that captures several juvenile great apes engaging in teasing behaviors with other group members.

One scene features a young chimpanzee at Leipzig Zoo in Germany who bumps into an adult female, hits her on the back, then runs away, looking back to see her reaction.

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