For these experiments, all animals were assessed playing with both a same- and an opposite-sex partner so that comparisons on how the sex. The alpha couple will actively discourage last years offspring from mating to ensure that there are not more mouths to feed, but a young male. Are the toys boys and girls like to play with really influenced by their gender? These baboons put the nature vs nurture argument to the test! BBC Two.
Many people have seen this exact phenomenon at play with They are often willing to copulate with any female, male, animal, leg. Are the toys boys and girls like to play with really influenced by their gender? These baboons put the nature vs nurture argument to the test! BBC Two. There's an idea circulating that humans are the only animal to experience sexual pleasure; that we approach sex in a way that is distinct from.
The alpha couple will actively discourage last years offspring from mating to ensure that there are not more mouths to feed, but a young male. Some animals love nothing more than group games. But are they just for fun? This film uncovers the astonishing benefits they gain from playing together. Many people have seen this exact phenomenon at play with They are often willing to copulate with any female, male, animal, leg.
Sex, we are told, is pleasurable. That's because most scientific accounts of sexual behaviour rest upon animal explanations rather than the play immediately relevant mental and emotional experiences. To say that we have sex because it helps us to preserve our genetic legacies would be entirely accurate, but the more fleeting, experiential, pleasurable aspects of that most basic of social urges would be missing.
It would be like staring at a painting with half the colour spectrum removed from it. One thing we have been curious about, though, is whether we are the only species that experiences sexual pleasure.
The question of whether non-human animals enjoy it too is play perennial — and scientifically legitimate — question to ask. In the last 10 to 15 sex, anmal evidence has begun to accumulate that animal do experience a general animal of pleasure — as anybody who has stroked a cat will know.
Infor example, psychologists Jeffrey Burgdorf and Sex Panskepp discovered that laboratory rats enjoyed being tickledemitting a sort of chirpy laugh animal the range of human hearing.
And not only that, they would actively seek out the feeling. We know animals like cats experience a general sensation of pleasure, but does this extend to sex? But does that include carnal pleasure too? One way to find out is to study instances of sex that can't possibly result in procreation — for instance, among two or more males, or females; where one or more individual is sexually immature, or sex that occurs outside of the breeding season.
Bonobosfor example, the so-called "hippie apes," are known for same-sex interactions, and for interactions between mature individuals and sub-adults or juveniles. But you don't need to be a bonobo to enjoy "non-conceptive" sex, white-faced capuchin monkeys do it too. In animal species, primatologists Joseph Sex, Susan Perry, and Amy Parish, found that that females' solicitation of males was decoupled from their fertility.
In other words, they had plenty of sex even when pregnancy was impossible — such as when they were already pregnant, or while lactating just following birth. In addition, interactions among mature and immature individuals were just as common as interactions between two adults, for both species. If animals indulge in more sex than is strictly necessary for conception, that too might hint at a pleasure-driven motivation to play the deed.
A female play may mate times per day over a period of about a play, and with multiple partners, each time she ovulates. It only takes one eager sperm to begin the road from conception to birth, but the lioness doesn't animal to mind. Could it be that play enjoys it? Similarly high rates of encounters have been observed among cougars animal leopards, too.
Researchers have been studying the wide and varied interactions that bonobos take part in for many years Sex Images. While it's impossible to ask a female macaque to interrogate her feelings, it is reasonable to infer that this behaviour is similar to that experienced by human women, at least in some sex.
That's in part because this macaque behaviour is sometimes accompanied by the type of physiological changes sex in humans, such as increases in heart rate and vaginal spasms. Interestingly, the female macaques were more likely to experience a response when copulating with a male who lived higher-up in their monkey dominance hierarchy, suggesting that there is a social, not just physiological, component to this, not simply a reflexive responses to sexual stimulation.
Oral sex also occurs with some frequency throughout the animal kingdom. It's been observed in primates, spotted hyenas, goats and sheep. Female cheetahs and lions lick and rub the males' genitals as animal part of their courtship ritual. Oral sex is also well known among short-nosed fruit bats animal, qt whom it is thought to prolong copulation, thereby increasing the likelihood of fertilisation.
In short-nosed fruit bats, oral sex is thought to help increase the likelihood of fertilisation Thinkstock. The researchers, led by Agnieszka Sergiel of the Sex Academy of Sciences Department of Wildlife Conservation, suspect that the behaviour began as a result of early deprivation of suckling behaviour, since both bears were brought to the sanctuary as orphans, before they att fully weaned from their absentee mothers.
It persisted for years, even after the bears aged out of cub-hood, perhaps because it remained pleasurable and satisfying. In most cases, researchers rely on evolutionary mechanisms to explain such animal play, to resist the pull of anthropomorphosis. As ethologist Xex Balcombe writes animal Applied Animal Behaviour Science : "Pain's unpleasantness znimal steer the animal away from 'bad' behaviours that risk the greater evolutionary disaster of death. Similarly, pleasure encourages animals to behave in 'good' ways, such as feeding, mating, and…staying warm or cool.
Could the urge in animals and humans to vary things in diet be because there's an in-built desire to try new things? Likewise, sexual behaviour can be wholly enjoyable while also esx from a deeper developmental or evolutionary origin. It is play because reproduction is so important to the survival of a species that evolution pkay it so pleasurable that animals — both sec and non-human — are motivated to sex it out even when conception is undesirable or impossible.
The urge to seek out that sort of pleasure, writes Balcombe, "is a combination of instinct on the one hand, and a powerful desire to attain reward on the snimal. Another way you might learn whether sex animals derive pleasure is whether they have orgasms. That's especially true for females, since conception does not rely on their ability to experience one. Italian researchers Alfonso Sex and Monica Carosi spent hours watching Japanese macaquesand witnessed individual copulations between males and females.
In a third of those copulations, they observed what they called female orgasmic responses: "the female play her head to look back at her partner, reaches back with one hand, and grasps the male.
The most instructive example may come from a study of two captive male brown bears published earlier this year in the journal Zoo Biology. Over the course of six years, researchers amassed hours of behavioural observations, which included 28 acts of oral sex between the two bearswho lived together in an enclosure at a sanctuary in Croatia.
He goes on to explain that rats prefer unfamiliar foods after three days in which they're only given a single type of food pplay eat. The simplest explanations for that pattern suggest that the rats' behaviour is adaptive because a diversity of foods allows them to ingest a wider range of nutrients, or maybe because it allows them to avoid overdependence on a possibly limited food source.
But is that too narrow a view, when it's equally plausible that the rats just became bored with their food and wanted to try qt new? To spice things up playy bit? Both explanations are probably true, depending on whether you take an expansive, zoomed-out perspective, or a more immediate, zoomed-in perspective. Read more. Open share tools. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter. Follow us on Instagram. Play up to our newsletter. Around the bbc.
If animals indulge in more sex than is strictly necessary for conception, that too might hint at a pleasure-driven motivation to do the deed. A female lion may mate times per day over a period of about a week, and with multiple partners, each time she ovulates. It only takes one eager sperm to begin the road from conception to birth, but the lioness doesn't seem to mind.
Could it be that she enjoys it? Similarly high rates of encounters have been observed among cougars and leopards, too. Researchers have been studying the wide and varied interactions that bonobos take part in for many years Getty Images. While it's impossible to ask a female macaque to interrogate her feelings, it is reasonable to infer that this behaviour is similar to that experienced by human women, at least in some ways.
That's in part because this macaque behaviour is sometimes accompanied by the type of physiological changes seen in humans, such as increases in heart rate and vaginal spasms. Interestingly, the female macaques were more likely to experience a response when copulating with a male who lived higher-up in their monkey dominance hierarchy, suggesting that there is a social, not just physiological, component to this, not simply a reflexive responses to sexual stimulation.
Oral sex also occurs with some frequency throughout the animal kingdom. It's been observed in primates, spotted hyenas, goats and sheep. Female cheetahs and lions lick and rub the males' genitals as a part of their courtship ritual. Oral sex is also well known among short-nosed fruit bats , for whom it is thought to prolong copulation, thereby increasing the likelihood of fertilisation.
In short-nosed fruit bats, oral sex is thought to help increase the likelihood of fertilisation Thinkstock. The researchers, led by Agnieszka Sergiel of the Polish Academy of Sciences Department of Wildlife Conservation, suspect that the behaviour began as a result of early deprivation of suckling behaviour, since both bears were brought to the sanctuary as orphans, before they were fully weaned from their absentee mothers. It persisted for years, even after the bears aged out of cub-hood, perhaps because it remained pleasurable and satisfying.
In most cases, researchers rely on evolutionary mechanisms to explain such animal behaviour, to resist the pull of anthropomorphosis. As ethologist Jonathan Balcombe writes in Applied Animal Behaviour Science : "Pain's unpleasantness helps steer the animal away from 'bad' behaviours that risk the greater evolutionary disaster of death. Similarly, pleasure encourages animals to behave in 'good' ways, such as feeding, mating, and…staying warm or cool.
However, there are several reports that the sex difference in the social play of rats is an artifact of methodology due to dependency on strain, isolation protocol, home cage versus neutral cage, and the number and sex of play partners [ 16 , 21 ].
For those studies that do report a sex difference, the incidence is often limited to the initiation of play, although more detailed studies demonstrate that there are quantitative as well as qualitative sex differences in play behavior [ 26 ]. Several of the brain areas critical for the expression of social play behavior, which include cortical, limbic, hypothalamic, thalamic, and sensory areas [ 27 , 28 ], are responsive to sex steroid hormones [ 29 , 30 ]. The medial amygdala in particular is considered critical for sexual differentiation of play behavior because implantation of testosterone capsules into this region is sufficient to masculinize the frequency of female social play behavior [ 31 ].
In further support of amygdalar mediation of sex-specific play behavior, Olesen et al. We performed a detailed analysis of social play behavior in Sprague-Dawley rats, which are known to exhibit sex differences in this behavior, with some reporting higher rates of play in males [ 18 ], while others report higher rates in females [ 26 ] or no sex difference in initiation of play [ 33 ].
Several studies have provided evidence for the contagiousness of play [ 26 , 34 — 38 ], making it difficult to determine whether differences in play or the lack therefore in studies performed with mixed sex or treatment groups are genuine or an artifact of the group dynamic.
To shed light on the impact of methodological differences on the reporting of sex differences in rough-and-tumble play behavior, we assessed how the sex and familiarity of the play partner can influence specific aspects of play behavior. For these experiments, all animals were assessed playing with both a same- and an opposite-sex partner so that comparisons on how the sex of the play partner altered both the time spent playing and the frequency of play behaviors could be assessed with a repeated measures design.
All experiments were carried out without prior social isolation, a method commonly used to increase play behavior, to emphasize that sex differences in play behavior are observed under basal conditions. Testing was conducted on postnatal day PN 27—38, an age when juveniles demonstrate the full repertoire of play behaviors [ 5 ]. We assessed the frequency of play events and time spent engaged in play, as well as how play was broken into its constitutive components of chasing, pouncing, pinning, and boxing.
Various aspects of play behavior, such as offensive versus defensive behaviors and discrimination of play partner, are mediated by different regions of the brain, making it is feasible to alter specific parameters while leaving others unaffected for example, see [ 39 ].
It was of particular interest in this study to examine individual aspects of play behavior because a recent study comparing sex and strain differences in rough-and-tumble play behavior following social isolation reported sex differences in defensive strategies in play behavior with no differences in total frequency of play or play initiation in the Sprague-Dawley strain [ 33 ]. Understanding sex differences in social play behavior provides an important step towards revealing factors that mediate social play and how it may be disrupted in neuropsychiatric disorders.
Sprague-Dawley rats Harlan mated in our facility were allowed to deliver normally under standard laboratory conditions. On the day of birth PN0 , three litters were culled to 12 pups consisting of equal numbers of males and females. Pups were weaned on PN22 and housed in groups consisting of two to three individuals of the same sex, with each cagemate from a different litter. Food and water were available ad libitum. All breeding and experimental procedures were approved by the Institutional Care and Use Committee at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, and performed in accordance with national animal care and use guidelines.
A neutral arena was chosen to facilitate assessment of different play partners, as opposed to cagemates. Play behavior was assessed everyday from PN27—PN Prior to behavioral assessment, pups were given head and tail markings to distinguish individuals. The order of the pairs was alternated to eliminate any effect of which play partner was encountered first. Pups were paired with the same two play partners every day except for PN33, on which both the same- and opposite-sex partners were switched for two novel play partners to test the effects of a novel versus a familiar play partner.
All play partners were age-matched and were not litter- or cagemates. Each play session consisted of a 2-min acclimation period, followed by a min video recorded session that was played back for analysis. Following play, pups were returned to their home cage. Total frequency of play and frequency of pouncing, pinning, chasing, and boxing were analyzed by combining results from all days of analysis.
We then tested for an effect of the sex of the play partner using a paired t test to analyze the behavior of males and females in same-sex pairs relative to their behavior in mixed-sex pairs. For each parameter of play behavior, data was separated by age and analyzed using a two-way ANOVA with Tukey post hoc analysis with age as a repeated measure and pair type as the other factor to determine whether play differed with increasing age in a pair-dependent manner.
This analysis also serves to identify potential sources of variability in our initial analysis where the data was pooled across all ages. To determine how the switch from a familiar to a novel play partner affected play, we used a two-way ANOVA with Bonferroni post hoc analysis with partner familiarity as a repeated measure and pair type as the other factor. Percent change in weight between the sexes was also calculated. All data are expressed as mean or mean with standard error of the mean.
Total frequency of all rough-and-tumble play behaviors between males and females paired with either same- or opposite-sex play partners from PN27—PN38 was analyzed using t tests to test for differences between males and females and using paired t tests to test for effects of the sex of the play partner Fig.
Both same- and mixed-sex pairs showed significant sex differences in which males displayed higher frequencies of play behavior related to females t To assess the impact of familiarity of the partner, play on PN32 familiar partner was compared to play on PN33 novel partner. This ensures that the observed decrease in female-female dyads with the introduction of a novel partner was not an artifact of elevated play levels on PN32 relative to other days.
Males play more than females. Male and female pups were assessed for play behavior on PN27—PN38 with a same- and an opposite-sex partner. Play partners were the same every day, except for PN33, on which novel play partners were introduced. Pouncing is considered one of the most characteristic parameters of play behavior in the rat. It occurs when one rat jumps on the other in an attempt to gain access to the nape of the neck.
The frequency of pouncing behavior was analyzed for males and females with same- and opposite-sex partners with the data from all ages pooled together Fig. Males and females paired with same-sex partners did not display significant sex differences t Pouncing frequency is affected by sex, play partner, and age. Rough-and-tumble play is comprised of a combination of attack and defense maneuvers. During the juvenile period, rotating to supine is the most common defense strategy [ 6 ].
This maneuver places one animal lying on its back with the other standing on top, in a pinning position. A decrease in pinning behavior may be due to a decrease in the number of attacks launched, a decreased response to play solicitation, or a combination of the two.
Analyses of pinning frequency for males and females with same- and opposite-sex partners from PN27—PN38 identified sex differences between both same- and mixed-sex pairs t Pinning frequency is modulated by play partner, sex, and age.
Chasing occurs when one pup the attacker runs after another the evader , which will either result in successful escape by the evader, the attacker catching the opponent and performing either a pounce or pin, or for the chase to become circular in which both pups chase one another. In some studies, chasing is considered a type of locomotor play or social play that is separate from rough-and-tumble play because it does not involve direct contact between the two animals.
We chose to include it in our analysis because it can be indicative of defensive tactics, such as evasion, used during rough-and-tumble play. Chasing is affected by the sex of the play partner. Overall boxing was the most infrequent behavior, but sex differences were observed in both same- and mixed-sex pairs t Males show higher boxing frequency.
Males play longer than females. To provide insight into relationship dynamics within a pair, the total number of play events for each member of same-sex pairs was charted Fig.
In some pairs, one partner consistently exhibited more play events, but in other pairs, there was no predictability across days in which partner played more.
This was true for both female-female and male-male pairs. A measure of who was the initiator of play was gained from separate analyses of pouncing which begins with one animal. Again, in some pairs, there was a consistent initiator, and in others, there was not. Pinning is the end result of some but not all pounces. There was a tendency for one individual to pin the other more frequently.
Female pair 2 exhibited an inverse relationship between pinning and pouncing, indicating an incomplete progression of the play bout. Overall, pinning was the most consistent behavior across days in both male-male and female-female dyads. Nonetheless, these data demonstrate that at the ages studied, there is a dynamic relationship in play between the partners regardless of sex. Relative playfulness is dynamic within pairs.
Each column indicates a single individual from a same-sex pair set. Age is indicated in the far left column. PN33, on which a novel play partner was introduced, was excluded. For each pair, the individual displaying the higher frequency is indicated in a darker shade for either total play cumulative pouncing, pinning, boxing and chasing , and two individual play components, pouncing and pinning.
The individual displaying the lower frequency of each component is indicated in a lighter shade. Instances in which frequencies of both individuals were the same are shown in gray and the actual number of events is included in each cell. Because weight differences between males and females could have contributed to sex differences observed in mixed sex pairs, weights were recorded in another group of animals every other day from PN28—PN38 and the percent difference between males and females calculated Fig.
Because sex differences in total play frequency, frequencies of the specific parameters of play, and time spent engaged in play behavior did not show age-associated changes that correlated with weight, sex differences in play cannot be fully explained by weight differences. Males weigh more than females only at older ages. A repeated measures ANOVA of weight with age as a repeating factor demonstrated a significant interaction between sex and age.
The percent difference between males and females is noted above each pair of data points. Social play behavior is a critical experience for proper development and maturation of juveniles in many and diverse species. Uncovering and investigating variations in play behavior may aid in revealing factors that modulate social behaviors, and are therefore likely to be affected in disorders characterized by altered social interactions.
Here, we have performed a detailed investigation of how sex of self and play partner can influence rough-and-tumble play, the most common form of social play behavior in rats. Our data demonstrated a higher frequency of rough-and-tumble play in males relative to females; however, there were qualitative differences in the specific parameters of play behavior that were affected by sex that were also impacted by sex of the play partner and familiarity of the play partner.
Interestingly, we found that the sex and familiarity of the play partner can have different effects depending on the sex of the test subject. These data demonstrate that the sex differences in play behavior are robust but subject to change based on experimental design. Many studies have reported a sex difference in the initiation of play behavior [ 20 , 23 , 24 , 34 , 40 , 41 ]. We observed a sex difference in pouncing behavior only in mixed-sex pairs, while there were sex differences in pinning behavior in both mixed- and same-sex pairs.
We scored pinning for the animal that was standing on top of the other animal, which had rotated to a supine position. Scoring in this manner is agnostic as to whether a change in pinning is due to a change in the frequency of initiation or due to a change in defensive strategy.
Considering differences in pinning versus pouncing is informative. For pinning behavior, males exhibited a higher frequency when paired with other males than when paired with females. Conversely, for pouncing, males paired with females displayed higher frequencies than when paired with other males, indicating that male initiation of play was not responsible for the decreased number of pins.
This suggests that the decrease in pinning observed in males paired with females was the result of the females responding differently to play solicitation from the males. Both sexes use rotating to supine as the most common form of defense and respond with equal frequency to attacks [ 26 , 33 ].
However, females tend to respond earlier to attacks, whereas males typically wait to respond until the attacker is near the nape of the neck [ 26 ]. This difference in the timing of defense is mediated by androgens [ 42 ].
A previous study demonstrated that females showed higher frequencies of complete rotations to supine than males [ 33 ]. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition. Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news. In microgravity, the object floated away, then floated back toward the animal, then away again, approaching another gecko, and then a third.
The animals got curious. One pushed the collar with its snout. Another tried inserting its head into it. Yet another pinned the thing down to the floor. As the spacecraft orbited Earth, the geckos started to play. Russian scientists described this particular instance of reptile play in , after observing the astronaut-geckos with cameras inside the spacecraft. We have reports of octopuses fooling around with Lego blocks and Komodo dragons waging tug of war with their keepers.
In , a study of tooth marks on fossils showed that the bones may have served as a toy for a tyrannosaurid more than 65 million years ago.
Until recently, however, researchers doubted these diverse species were even capable of the behavior. For decades, if not centuries, scientists rejected the notion that animals other than mammals actually play, even when faced with observational reports of frolicking fish or apparently fun-loving birds. At the close of the 20th century, as extensive use of video and computers allowed scientists to analyze animal behavior in detail, the consensus began to change.
Consider the case of Pigface, a Nile soft-shelled turtle who spent nearly his entire life alone in an enclosure at the National Zoo in Washington, D. In the s, when Pigface was already in his 40s, he began biting himself and clawing at his face.
In , Burghardt and other researchers gave Pigface two basketballs and a round hoop fashioned from a garden hose, then recorded his behavior. Boredom cured. Researching non-mammalian play got a boost in , when Burghardt, based on years of research, outlined five criteria defining the activity.
That made it easier to qualify if certain behavior was play or something entirely different. Play is far from uniform, though, which can make it challenging to recognize. Take ravens, for example. Sometimes, the birds would manipulate the toys with their beaks or feet — what scientists call object play. And sometimes, the birds would just hang upside down from a branch, seemingly enjoying themselves.
No big brain required. A comparison across 15 orders of mammals showed that larger-brained orders contained more playful species. However, within a given order, such as, say, primates, some of the most playful species were those with the tiniest brains. Experiments done on rats show that play changes the brain, affecting development of the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for complex thoughts and regulating emotions.