hey! I was reading DISCOVER magazine, december issue I think, and they were explaining how humans were actually the only known species to kiss when they showed feelings from one another… and that the only other species that somehow had a similar behavior were apes but they kissed only as excitement and they did not used tongue, it was just a pressed kiss… so are we the only animals that kiss passionately in order to show feelings such as love or are there other animals that also do such a thing? Thanks!
It’s a terrific question and I’m glad you brought up that DISCOVER piece because I wrote it.
When it comes to describing similar behaviors across the animal kingdom, scientists have to be very careful. We cannot assume that other species experience the same emotions as we do. So instead of words like “love,” behaviorists use phrases like “mate choice” or “selective proceptivity.”
In Chapter 2 of The Science of Kissing, I go into detail describing how “kissing-like behaviors” can serve a variety of purposes from affection to feeding to conflict depending on the species and individuals involved. More in the book…
So what do you think?!
From a noted science journalist comes a wonderfully witty and fascinating exploration of how and why we kiss.
When did humans begin to kiss? Why is kissing integral to some cultures and alien to others? Do good kissers make the best lovers? And is that expensive lip-plumping gloss worth it? Sheril Kirshenbaum, a biologist and science journalist, tackles these questions and more in THE SCIENCE OF KISSING. It’s everything you always wanted to know about kissing but either haven’t asked, couldn’t find out, or didn’t realize you should understand. The book is informed by the latest studies and theories, but Kirshenbaum’s engaging voice gives the information a light touch. Topics range from the kind of kissing men like to do (as distinct from women) to what animals can teach us about the kiss to whether or not the true art of kissing was lost sometime in the Dark Ages. Drawing upon classical history, evolutionary biology, psychology, popular culture, and more, Kirshenbaum’s winning book will appeal to romantics and armchair scientists alike.
During the final month composing The Science of Kissing, it can be challenging to maintain a sense of the manuscript’s ‘big picture‘ while getting lost editing a single paragraph at a time. Fortunately, The Daily Dish has provided the distance and perspective I need–perhaps even a glimpse of the ‘first kiss’ ever–with this view of NGC 6302, a butterfly-shaped nebula surrounding a dying star. It’s just 3,800 light-years away in the Scorpius constellation:
Looks like a kiss to me too… Thanks Andrew!
You may have noticed posting at The Intersection has slowed down a bit this week. CM and I are both moving, writing, and traveling constantly right now, but our blog will return to normal soon. In the meantime, I’m working hard at finishing my next book, tentatively titled The Science of Kissing.
Among edits and re-writes, I’ve collected a series of photographs to include throughout the manuscript. A terrific mix of scientists have provided cool and unusual images from various machines and places. I’ve also got some incredible shots from professional photographers.
Now I’m interested to find out whether readers might be able to contribute… You’ve been immensely helpful in the past and I especially like the opportunity to bring our audience on the journey of composition. When I requested help in June, the result was well over 1000 responses to the kissing photo survey. In fact, I finally had to take the images down when emails continued pouring in long after the corresponding experiment at NYU! I also greatly appreciate the help of my awesome volunteers from the summer.
So with that, a special invitation to all photographers, amateur or otherwise:
Have you ever taken a picture of bears nuzzling in the field or kissing fish? How about a provocative pair of human subjects? (With their permission!) Are you interested in having an image credited to you in a science book debuting next Fall? If you’re a photographer with intriguing pictures of kissing and cuddling [no higher than PG-13 content please], email me before September 14 at email@example.com.