Primates have been laughing for 10m years

Level 3
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Advanced

Warmer

Answer the questions and use them as the basis of a five-minute discussion. • • • Are you ticklish? Do you know anyone who giggles a lot? What makes you laugh?

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Key words

Match the key words from the article with their meanings. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. ancestor primate to tickle to trace trait to mock mirth evolution arousal a. to breathe very loudly with your mouth open b. the way in which something gradually changes and develops c. someone who is related to you and lived a long time ago d. a man who is violent, especially a criminal e. to breathe very fast in a way that is not normal f. an animal belonging to the same group as humans

g. to discover how something developed h. to move your fingers gently on someone’s skin to make them laugh i. j. the action of using your voice a feeling of being sexually excited

10. to bond 11. to pant 12. to hyperventilate 13. to saw 14. vocalization 15. a thug

k. to develop feelings of love or friendship towards other people l. happy laughter

m. to make someone look stupid by laughing at them n. a particular quality in someone’s character o. to cut something in a backwards and forwards motion

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2009 NEWS LESSONS / Primates have been laughing for 10m years / Advanced

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but at least one study has suggested that it is important in expressing excitement and arousal.” said Marina Davila Ross. gorillas.” said Davila Ross. 8 To analyze the recordings. 11 Human laughter sounds very different from the noises produced by great apes. Laughing might also have been important for bonding within groups of animals.” said Davila Ross. depending on the individual. 3 The finding challenges the view that laughter is a uniquely human trait. 13 Few studies have been carried out into the role of laughter in primates. between 10m and 16m years ago. which include chimpanzees. The human laugh is also produced by more regular vibrations of the vocal cords than in any of the apes. according to a study of giggling primates. 6 “The caretakers play with the apes all the time and tickling is a very important part of that. suggesting instead that it emerged long before humans split from the evolutionary path that led to our primate cousins. There are certain body parts that are more ticklish than others. 7 In total. 2 Researchers used recordings of apes and babies being tickled to trace the origins of laughter back to the last common ancestor that humans shared with the modern great apes. but with time became longer and clearer as the great apes evolved. the team fed them into a computer program that arranged them on an “evolutionary tree” based on how related to each other they seemed to be. while others offered their feet to be tickled. to record baby and juvenile apes while their caretakers tickled them. whether it emerged earlier on than we did. orang-utans and © Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2009 NEWS LESSONS / Primates have been laughing for 10m years / Advanced 9 10 Writing in the journal Current Biology. Great apes are known to make noises that are similar to laughter when they are excited and while they are playing with each other. It can be the strongest way of expressing how much we are enjoying ourselves. Borneo. gorillas and orang-utans. science correspondent 4 June. Some were tickled on their necks or armpits.” Our primate ancestors have been laughing for 10 million years A study that involved tickling apes suggests laughter is not a uniquely human trait after all Ian Sample. a psychologist at Portsmouth University. 4 “In humans. 14 Robert Provine. the laughter recorded from different primates linked together in a way that matched the evolutionary tree linking all of the species to one common ancestor. but it can also be used in other contexts. like mocking. “Our evolutionary tree based on these acoustic recordings alone showed that humans were closest to chimps and bonobos. Davila Ross collected recordings of mirth from 21 chimps. but chimps can laugh as they breathe in as well. 2009 1 The first hoots of laughter from an ancient ancestor of humans rippled across the land at least 10 million years ago. The differences are thought to have arisen when certain acoustic features became exaggerated in early humans after they split from ancestors they shared with chimps and bonobos around 5.5m years ago. with gorillas somewhere intermediate.” 5 Davila Ross travelled to seven zoos around Europe and visited a wildlife reserve in Sabah. Remarkably. And that is what you see in the well-established evolutionary tree of great apes.Primates have been laughing for 10m years Level 3 Advanced bonobos and added recordings of three babies that were tickled to make them laugh. laughing is a complex and intriguing expression. but furthest from orang-utans. the researchers describe how the earliest laughterlike sounds were shorter and noisier. 12 Humans laugh as they exhale. said students who took part in his own studies likened N T O FR BE C O DO O M W P W N IA EB LO B SI A L TE DE E D • CA •P H O . “I was interested in whether laughing had a pre-human basis. “What this shows is strong evidence to suggest that laughing comes from a common primate ancestor. a psychologist and neuroscientist at the University of Maryland and author of the book Laughter: A Scientific Investigation.

4. much as simpler systems of molecular biology are useful for investigating complex life processes. 3. Santino. c. © Guardian News & Media 2009 First published in The Guardian. with the ape vocalization being produced during both inward and outward breaths. The researcher at Portsmouth University is . b. 04/06/09 chimp “laughter” to a dog panting. The 31-year-old male. 24 c. 18 Zookeepers at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington DC have reported another human trait in one of its long-time residents. … in captivity.. … a neuroscientist. 2. … a psychologist. 17 In March 2009. … apes are extremely ticklish. The apes recorded for the study live . 1..Primates have been laughing for 10m years Level 3 Advanced nature of human behaviour. Humans laugh . c. b. How many apes were recorded laughing? a.. 23 6. According to the results of the study . other apes at the zoo have reportedly begun copying her. 21 b.” he added. c... an asthma attack or hyperventilation. … when they hyperventilate. © Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2009 NEWS LESSONS / Primates have been laughing for 10m years / Advanced CA •P H N T O FR BE C O DO O M W P W N IA EB LO B SI A L TE DE E D • O . Researchers believe Bonnie learned to whistle by copying the zookeepers. 5. a. … apes should not be kept in a zoo. Bonnie. researchers reported that a chimp at a zoo in Sweden had started to challenge scientists’ views about the unique 3 Comprehension check Choose the correct answer according to the information in the article. The chimp has since been castrated. a.. b. … a zookeeper. … when they are excited..” he said. … in the jungle. Some even thought the noise was caused by someone sawing. 15 “The means of production of human and ape laughter are as different as the sound. c. a. while humans parse an outward breath into ‘ha-ha’. a 30-year-old orang-utan. a. b. … when they breathe out. … at Portsmouth University. Although she is unable to hold a tune. a. … in the same way that dogs pant. … when they are happy.. … laughter is not only a human characteristic. Apes laugh . regularly displayed thuggish behaviour by preparing piles of rocks while the zoo was closed and then throwing them at visitors when the gates opened. … without using their vocal chords. 16 “The simplicity and stereotypy of laughter provides a valuable tool with which to trace vocal evolution.. b.. c.

.. Great apes should not be kept in zoos......... ........................................................ 2........................................... strongly agree not sure strongly disagree 4.................................. Apes are ‘cleverer’ than we currently realize......................... strongly agree not sure strongly disagree 3... to hold a hoot a valuable a uniquely an evolutionary a common a means to display thuggish tool of production human trait path behaviour a tune of laughter ancestor ................................ 3........................................................... Be prepared to justify and talk about your opinions in a follow-up discussion.. Describe what you can see and hear................................................. 5...... .................................... .........................co.............................. 5 Discussion: What’s your opinion? Read the four statements and mark your opinion by placing a cross on each line.. 8......................... 7.....................uk/science/2009/jun/04/laughter-primates-apes-evolution-tickling • Close your eyes while you listen then try to describe the sound you have just heard............................. Notice in which context they were used and then write your own example sentences for at least four of the phrases... .........................................................................Primates have been laughing for 10m years Level 3 Advanced 4 Language: Phrases Match the halves of the phrases then check your answers by finding them in the article.................................................... We should not try to ‘humanize’ animals by searching for human traits in their behaviour................ The money used to fund this study would have been better spent on medical research.... 1.......................... strongly agree not sure strongly disagree 2........ 4.................. 6................................... © Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2009 NEWS LESSONS / Primates have been laughing for 10m years / Advanced CA O N T O FR BE C O DO O M W P W N IA EB LO B SI A L TE DE E D • •P H ........................ strongly agree not sure strongly disagree 6 Webquest: Laughter recordings Listen to the laughter recordings here: http://www.......................guardian................................. 1................ • Watch the short video that can be found at the same URL...................................... ....

guardian.guardian.uk/science/2009/mar/09/chimpzoo-stones-science http://nationalzoo.co. l 8. 3. 2.youtube.co. 8. 4. i 15. g 5.cfm And here you can watch a short video report about an orang-utan who escaped from her cage in an Australian zoo: http://www. b 9. m 7. 3. 5. k 11. f 3.com/watch?v=g4bwp90dOTU http://www. 5. n 6. 7.edu/Publications/ZooGoer/2009/1/ BrainyBonnie. to hold a tune a hoot of laughter a valuable tool a uniquely human trait an evolutionary path a common ancestor a means of production to display thuggish behaviour Teacher’s notes You can read the other two ape stories mentioned in the article here: http://www.si. d Advanced 4 Language: Phrases 1. 6. 4. b b c c a c © Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2009 NEWS LESSONS / Primates have been laughing for 10m years / Advanced CA O N T O FR BE C O DO O M W P W N IA EB LO B SI A L TE DE E D • •P H .Primates have been laughing for 10m years Level 3 KEY 2 Key words 1. c 2. e 13. h 4. o 14. a 12. j 10.uk/world/2009/may/10/adelaidezoo-orang-utan-escape 3 Comprehension check 1. 6. 2.

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