New Zealand's kea parrot has 'infectious laugh'

An Austrian researcher found the kea has a "play call" distinct from its other vocalisations, which caused other birds to start playing spontaneously.

Published: 21st March 2017 10:55 AM  |   Last Updated: 21st March 2017 10:55 AM   |  A+A-

Two kea parrots in New Zealand. (File photo | AFP)

By AFP

WELLINGTON: Researchers have found that New Zealand's kea parrot has the avian equivalent of an infectious laugh -- a call that when heard prompts others to drop everything and have some fun.

Kea live in alpine areas and are renowned in New Zealand for being intelligent and mischievous, often called "the clown of the mountain".

But a paper published in the journal Current Biology on Tuesday argues the bird's playful reputation is not entirely anthropomorphic.

Austrian researcher Raoul Schwing found the kea has a "play call" distinct from its other vocalisations, which caused other parrots to start playing spontaneously.

Schwing, a doctoral student in animal behaviour at Auckland University when the research was conducted, said even birds that were by themselves began playing when they heard the call.

"The fact that at least some of these birds started playing spontaneously when no other birds had been playing suggests that, similar to human laughter, it had an emotional effect on the birds that heard it, putting them in a playful state," he said.  

Raoul said similar "emotionally contagious" vocalisations had previously been recorded in chimpanzees and rats, but the kea was the first non-mammal.

He said the call was akin to a form of infectious laughter and warranted further study, as well as serving as a reminder that humans may not be as unique as we like to think.

"If animals can laugh, we are not so different from them," he said.

Stay up to date on all the latest World news with The New Indian Express App. Download now

Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

IPL2018