Human facial expressions can express many emotions, from joy and surprise to anger and frustration. Mimic abilities of animals are very limited, but still – can they at least smile? Many owners of dogs and cats, of course, will say that – yes, they can! But is it really a smile?
Of all animals, only chimpanzees can “repeat” a human smile – they, like people, can stretch their lips, opening their teeth in a wide smile. Scientists have not been able to find out whether a monkey smile serves to express emotions, or primates “smile” to people because they see that they like it. Until recently, scientists believed that both primates and other animals, for example, dogs and cats, “smile” mechanically, simply opening their mouths or relaxing their facial muscles, but recent studies show that animals really express joy with a smile and other positive emotions. Moreover, the researchers managed to find out that animals are capable of experiencing a wide range of emotions – fear, sadness, anger, surprise, joy, etc.
Nicholas Daudman, a professor at the American Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine, says many biologists underestimate the ability of animals, especially domestic ones, to display emotions. According to the professor, dogs have an excellent sense of humor, and they have a special “tone” of barking for expressing laughter. In 2005, an interesting experiment was carried out – the dogs living in shelters without owners were given an audio recording of the “laughter” of their relatives, after which tests showed a sharp decrease in stress levels in animals.
As for cats, thanks to the special structure of their lips with the corners bent up, you might think that these animals are smiling all the time, and it’s not easy to recognize a real smile. However, according to studies, cats are also capable of a wide range of emotions and are very sensitive to the mood and well-being of the owners. Do your pets know how to smile?