Flashback Friday: Study finds that parakeet yawning is contagious. And super cute.

By Seriously Science | June 16, 2017 9:25 am
Images of a budgerigar yawning (beginning to peak)

Images of a budgerigar yawning (beginning to peak)

Think about yawning. Yawn yawn yawn… yawn. Have you yawned yet? If so, it’s probably because you come from a social species. Contagious yawning, unlike spontaneous yawning (the purpose of which might be related to cooling the brain),  seems to be related to social coordination and empathy. This type of yawning has only been observed in a handful of animals (for example, dogs may be able to catch human yawns), but never in a non-mammalian species..until now, that is! Here, researchers show that budgerigars (aka parakeets), a social bird species, are able to catch each other’s yawns. These findings lend further support to the idea that contagious yawning serves a social function. (And they also happen to be pretty adorable!)

Experimental evidence of contagious yawning in budgerigars (Melopsittacus undulatus)

“Experimental evidence of contagious yawning has only been documented in four mammalian species. Here, we report the results from two separate experimental studies designed to investigate the presence of contagious yawning in a social parrot, the budgerigar (Melopsittacus undulatus). In Study 1, birds were paired in adjacent cages with and without visual barriers, and the temporal association of yawning was assessed between visual conditions. In Study 2, the same birds were exposed to video stimuli of both conspecific yawns and control behavior, and yawning frequency was compared between conditions. Results from both studies demonstrate that yawning is contagious. To date, this is the first experimental evidence of contagious yawning in a non-mammalian species. We propose that future research could use budgerigars to explore questions related to basic forms of empathic processing.”

Related content:
The purpose of yawning might be to cool your brain.
NCBI ROFL: Dogs catch human yawns.
Study finds that like yawning, sniffing is contagious.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: fun with animals
  • OWilson

    How about having budgies study humans ? :)

    Save money!

  • http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/qz4.htm Uncle Al

    the first experimental evidence of contagious yawning in a non-mammalian species” Make Psychology Great Again.
    Sometimes empathic processing is just scratching your fundament.


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