Human evolution theory utilizing concepts of neoteny & female sexual selection
An etiology of neuropsychological disorders such as autism and dyslexia, and the origin of left handedness.

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 Library of Excerpts

Humor and Play: Heterochronic Patterns


"Juveniles often use small branches in play. One individual will pick up a small branch and run away, signaling "try and get it." With a playmate in pursuit, he dashed around, passes the branch in a baffling way from hand to foot to mouth, and puts it between his thigh and abdomen. Finally, when the branch is snatched from his by force, he changes roles to chase his playmate." (Kano, T. (1992) The Last Ape: Pygmy Chimpanzee Behavior and Ecology; Stanford Univ. Press, Standord p. 198)

"Play involves recognition that there is a possibility for making choices." Burgers, J.M. (1966) Curiosity and play: basic factors in the development of life. Science 154: pp. 1680)

"To have as instrument for exploring what supplemental relations may be introduced, it is suggested that in living systems there is active a faculty not recognized in the current physical picture, which induces decisions or choices between alternatives. Such a hypothesis will enable us to construct a link with mental activities if we assume that the decisive faculty is the carrier of subjective aspects such as we find in the activities of the mind. In view of the continuity of all forms of life, we assume that forms of these activities are also present in other living beings. Within ourselves, we notice that not all these processes penetrate the "master mind;" evidently processes go on at various levels, and it is appropriate to suppose that some forms are active in every living cell, perhas even in parts of cells." (Burgers, J.M. (1966) Curiosity and play: basic factors in the development of life. Science 154: pp. 1680-1)

"Meaning is created for me by vast networks of background contexts about which I consciously know very little. I do not fashion this meaning; this meaning fashions me. I am part of a vast background of cultural signs, and in many cases I have no clue as to where it all came from." (Wilber, Ken (1998) The Marriage of Sense and Soul. Random House, New York p. 128)

"In Fig. 3, another behavior is given that does not correspond with the developmental sequences of motor capacities, off-mother and social play. the play-face (cf. smile) in the rhesus monkey appears at about the same time as social play. It is shown occasionally if a peerless infant plays with the mother. In chimpanzees, however, smiling develops at a much earlier stage, long before playful interactions with other infants are common. Unlike in the rhesus monkey, the chimp smile is first shown during manual and oral interactions with the mother (Plooij, 1979). In man the smile develops at about the same (chronological) age as in chimpanzees, i.e. again at an earlier stage of development. So the slower the development, the earlier the smile appears." (Dienske, H. (1986) A comparative approach to the question of why human infants develop so slowly, in Primate Ontogeny, Cognition and Social Behavior. Else JG, Lee PC (eds.) Cambridge Univ. Press: Cambridge p. 151)

"From the fact that a child can hardly tickle itself, or in a much less degree than when tickled by another person, it seems that the precise point to be touched must not be known; so with the mind, something enexpected--a novel or incongruous idea which breaks through an habitual train of thought--appears to be a strong element of the ludicrous." (Darwin C.(1965 (1872)) The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals. John Murray: Londonp. 200)

"There needs to be a connection in our hidden framework for a joke to be perceived as humorous. The first stage of joke processing is usually a mild surprise caused by an incongruity that slightly upsets our anticipation. The second stage consists of solving this incongruity by reinterpreting all of the information in a new context. The pleasure of a joke depends on the individual's ability to solve the incongruity, the joke being all the more funny or subtle as the level of complexity of the problem to be solved is greater. Not everyone gets the joke, no matter how intact their brains may be. Going to another country, or hearing a comedian from a different tradition, often leaves first-time listeners cold, since they don't have the same set of associations as the comic and the crowd. This complexity that comes from the network of possible meanings of words is the province of the right side of the human brain. A long line of research shows that this hemisphere selects words very differently than the left does. The right hemisphere has a ability to hold lots of different meanings of a word available for use while, by contrast, the left hemisphere quickly selects a single meaning. People with damaged right hemispheres, then, have difficulty with jokes because they cannot hold the different meanings of a word or phrase in mind for comparison." (Ornstein, R. (1997) The Right Mind. Harcourt Brace & Co: San Diego p. 108)

"what has been called conceptual activity and choice or decision should not be considered as conscious, although certain features become conscious in man in some of the other animals. Berlyne's terms, such as "useful," "reward," and "likely to have beneficial consequences" (1, p. 30) can have a sense only if there is some expectation of a future with the implications just enumerated. While the features described by Berlyne refer to the behavior of some of the higher animals, the point of view sketched here extrapolates from there all the way down to the simplest aspects of life. My purpose is to present a set of ideas in which the notion of play of ideas becomes primordial in life, and should not be considered as a late invention (late inventions refer tothe extend of the domains of alternatives over which it operates)." Burgers, J.M. (1966) Curiosity and play: basic factors in the development of life. Science 154: pp. 1681)

"Our social structure is built on and operates on the presumption that man can decide between alternative courses, and that he is responsible for his choice. This is an experimental fact, and there is nothing supernatural about it. Between physics and human life lies the domain of biology. Perhaps what we observe in ourselves may give hints that will be helpful in explaining biological phenomena." Burgers, J.M. (1966) Curiosity and play: basic factors in the development of life. Science 154: pp. 1680)

"Previous studies show that autistic children fail tests of second-order belief attribution. They also fail tests of lying and deception. The present study used Leekam's (1988) joke-lie distinction task to test (a) understanding of second-order mental states (intention and belief) and (b) the ability to judge these acts as lies or jokes. Seventeen normal and 16 autistic children took part. Eight of the autistic children had previously passed a test of first-order false belief. Results showed that six autistic subjects (37.5%), all of whom are false belief "passers", gave consistently correct answers to second-order mental state questions. Neither normal nor autistic children found second-order intention easier than second-order belief. However, normal children found the ability to judge another person's mental state easier than labelling whether the person was lying or joking, supporting previous evidence. In contrast, there was no difference in these two judgements for autistic children. Overall these results qualify previous evidence by showing that autistic children can use second-order reasoning and can distinguish lies from jokes. Observational data on these children, however, suggest that their competence on the comprehension of these hypothetical situations was not matched by an ability to use lying and joking in real life. Methodological, language and diagnostic factors are discussed as providing possible explanations for the results." (Leekam, Susan R., & Prior, Margot (1994) Can autistic children distinguish lies from jokes? A second look at second-order belief attribution. J Child Psychology 35: 901)

"Fagan has linked the occurence of play in mammals to large brains, slow maturation, and K selection. He argues that r habitats with catastrophic environmental variability require increasingly rapid development and eliminate the protracted juvenile period "whose existence appears to be a necessary condition for play" (1974, p. 855). Among rodents and dasyurids, small, rapidly maturing species do not play, while larger, more slowly maturing species do. Eayrs (1964) has demonstrated that artificially accelerated neural maturation leads to impaired intelligence in adult rats. The extent of play in early ontogeny correlates with levels of sociality in canids: "A striking relationship emerges from comparative developmental studies on canids, namely that the more social canids fight less and play more very early in life than do the less social canids. The delay in the appearance of rank-related aggression may be responsible for the development of a coordinated social group" (Bekoff, in press; see also Bekoff, 1972, p. 424.)" (Gould, S.J. (1977) Ontegeny and Phylogeny. Cambridge: Belknap Press.pp. 351)

"The role of the RH is broader aspects of linguistic and paralinguistic communication is highlighted in the work of Gardner and associates. They found that RBD {right brain damaged} patients had difficulty in understanding cartoons, preferred non sequitor ending to jokes, and in general exhibited an inappropriate sense of humor. There is also a corresponding deficit in interpreting metaphors, figures of speech, and idiomatic expressions. Here the literal meaning is preserved, but the use of contextual pragmatic features seems impaired. Similarly, RBD patients are impaired in their comprehension of the overall structure or theme of connected text or discourse: They misinterpret emotions and motivations, fail to get the point of a story, and inject irrelevant personal elements." (Benson and Zaidel (E. Zaidel) 1985: 221, The Dual Brain)

"As pointed out in Chapters 2 and 21, play represents one of three cardinal forms of behavior that characterized the evolutionary transition from reptiles to mammals. There is no persuasive evidence that reptiles play, and the alleged play of feather tossing that occurs among some birds appears almost accidental and of short duration. Hence, it might be argued tha individual play, and most particularly long bouts of social play, represents a uniquely mammalian trait." (MacLean 1990: 559, The Triune Brain in Evolution)

Females actually play differently than males do (Walters 1987). In species that live in highly complex social groups, males play more frequently and engage in rough-and-tumble play more often than females do (Caine and Mitchell 1979). ... The difference is apparently hormonally based. When female rhesus monkey fetuses given male androgen hormones become juveniles they played more like males than females juveniles (Goy and Resko 1972). (Small, Meredith F. (1993) Female choices: Sexual behavior of female primates. Cornell Univ. Press, Ithaca, 1993 pp. 63)

"The mere fact of humor in human relations indicates that at least at this biological level, multiple typing is essential to human communication. In the absence of the distortions of logical typing, humor would be unnecessary and perhaps could not exist. (Bateson 1979: 129, Mind and Nature)

"Presently Mike reached out toward Flo's hand and began almost imperceptibly to play with her fingers. Soon she responded, gently grasping his hand, twisting and pulling away --- only to reach out and grasp it again. After a few minutes Mike sat up and leaned over Flo, tickling her neck and her ticklish groin until, protecting Flint with one hand and parrying Mike with the other, Flo started to shake with panting gasps of chimpanzee laughter. After a while she could stand it no longer and rolled away from him. But she was roused, this ancient female with her stumps of teeth, and soon she was tickling Mike in the ribs with her bony fingers. Then it was Mike's turn to laugh and reach to grab her hands and tickle her again himself." (Goodall,J. (1971) In the Shadow of Man. Dell: New York p. 117)

"All mammals (particularly the young ones), several species of birds, and possibly also some species of fish show a behavior which we call playing because it resembles very much some simpler types of play of human children. This parallelism already indicates that playing probably belongs to protocultural behavior, the roots of which have been developed very early in vertebrate phylogeny." (Menzel ed. (Rensch) 1973: 102, Precultural Primate Behavior)

"The following characteristics are those we now recognize [cf. Alleman, 1951, cited by Meyer-Holzapfel, 1956b; Meyer-Holzapfel, 1956a; Loizos, 1967]: the occurance of components of normal instinctive behavior in incomplete and variable sequence lacking consummative actions; repetition of single components; tendency to exaggerate certain movements; social inhibitions, particularly avoidance of injuring the partner; possible use of inanimate objects or individuals of other species as substitute playmates; possible interruption in every stage by stronger stimuli (loud noise, appearance of enemies, need of defecation, and so on); transmission of playing mood to other individuals, particularly playmates; a certain degree of freedom in inventing new individual or experimental play, sometimes leading to new nervous and muscular coordinations [Eibl-Eibesfeldt, 1951]; and correspondence to simple human play. Normally, playing occurs only in a relaxed situation, free from physiological pressures and threats from the environment." (Menzel ed. (Rensch) 1973: 104, Precultural Primate Behavior)

"The spontaneous play of human children is very similar. Children like to roll on the ground, slide down slopes, swing on branches, turn somersaults, and scamper about in the manner as young apes and monkeys do. Fighting play is very similar in all primates and is also similar to playful fighting of carnivores. The inhibition against injuring the partner, particularly a biting-inhibition, is a common characteristic. In most cases, a mock aggression against a partner or one of the parents serves as an invitation to play. A young gorilla drums with both hands on his chest, belly, or upper thigh, on the ground, on the wall, or on the legs of his human partner. Young orangatans invite their playmates only by touching and pulling them. Then they try to clasp, wrestle, and bite, in a manner similar to gorillas, chimpanzees, capuchine monkeys, or mongooses [Rensh and Ducker, 1966; cf. also Schaller, 1963]." (Menzel ed. (Rensch) 1973: 106, Precultural Primate Behavior)

"In our culture, girls like to play 'mother and child' because they are given a doll as soon as they can handle it. Girls from more primitive cultures do not play very much in this manner." (Menzel ed. (Rensch) 1973: 107, Precultural Primate Behavior)

"Summing up, we may state that play of monkeys, apes, and human children have the same physiological base and that many types of play in animal and human children are identical or very similar in form. Man, however, also developed more voluntary and planned types of play which are transmitted by tradition from generation to generation." (Menzel ed. (Rensch) 1973: 110, Precultural Primate Behavior)

"On the other hand, his sense of aethetic appreciation, based on the pleasure which man can receive from the construction and matching of musical patterns involving the interaction of rhythm, melody, and harmony and visual patterns resulting from the interaction of form and colour, has also resulted from the freeing of his association areas from the more rigid relationship with the lower centres and with the more stereotyped, amorphous symbol patterns which constitute the inner reality of all other animals (Koestler 1964). Aesthetic appreciation, therefore, is a foetalised form of the continuous search for congruity or matching between models of the environment, models which the animal constantly contructs in its brain by processing its perceptions and the stereotypes retained in its memory store." (Crombie, Donald L. (1971) The group system of man and paedomorphosis. Current Anthropology 12(2): pp. 163)

"Fagan has linked the occurence of play in mammals to large brains, slow maturation, and K selection. He argues that r habitats with catastrophic environmental variability require increasingly rapid development and eliminate the protracted juvenile period "whose existence appears to be a necessary condition for play" (1974, p. 855). Among rodents and dasyurids, small, rapidly maturing species do not play, while larger, more slowly maturing species do. Eayrs (1964) has demonstrated that artificially accelerated neural maturation leads to impaired intelligence in adult rats. The extent of play in early ontogeny correlates with levels of sociality in canids: "A striking relationship emerges from comparative developmental studies on canids, namely that the more social canids fight less and play more very early in life than do the less social canids. The delay in the appearance of rank-related aggression may be responsible for the development of a coordinated social group" (Bekoff, in press; see also Bekoff, 1972, p. 424.)" (Gould, S.J. (1977) Ontegeny and Phylogeny. Cambridge: Belknap Press.pp. 351)

"Play is virtually the only nonhuman behavior to furnish analogs of human language (Marler 1977) and human deception (Thorpe 1966)." (Fagen, Robert (1981) Animal Play Behavior: New York: Viking. pp. viii-ix)

"Animal play behavior, as Karl Groos fully recongized, poses a problem in aesthetic philosophy. Comparing animal play to human artistic activity, Groos found in both an "as if" quality of conscious illusion and self-deception." (Fagen, Robert (1981) Animal Play Behavior: New York: Viking. pp. 4)

"Hutt (1966) concludes that as inspection gives way to play, the emphasis change from the question of "what does this object do?" to "what can I do with this object.?" Analogously, as a basic skill is mastered, practice gives way to diversive play. For example (Bruner 1973a p. 302): 'The six-month-old infant, having learned to hold on to an object and get it easily to his mouth, now begins a program of variation; when he takes the object now, he holds it to look at, he shakes it, he bangs it on his high chair, he drops it over the edge, and he manages shortly to fit the object into every activity into which it can be put.' Another familiar example of diversive play following mastery is that of a human child who has recently learned to ride a bycycle. The child may weave, sway back and forth, and shout while riding with both hands off the handlebars." (Fagen, Robert (1981) Animal Play Behavior: New York: Viking. pp. 11)

"The term "play" may be defined structurally or functionally. It may refer to a category of behavior, to a behavioral or social relationshop, or even to a mental state." (Fagen, Robert (1981) Animal Play Behavior: New York: Viking. pp. 21)

"The natural history of play in mammals and birds in remarkable uniform. When compared across species, behavioral content and stucture of play appear to vary little if at all around norms of nonagonistic contact, including wrestling or sparring, or nonpredatory locomotion and body rotation, including pursuit, capture, handling, and evasion. Most differences play behavior between species mirror behavioral, demographic, anatomical, or environmental constraints. However, complexity or elaborateness of play appear to increase with relative brain size across a wide phylogenetic spectrum. Especially interesting from this standpoint is the phenomenon of play in birds, behavior that may have evolved independently from mammalian play. The early study of avian play was flawed by misinterpretation of courtship behavior or of maturational precursors of locomotor behavior. Recent studies of parrot behavior demonstrate surprisingly elaborate social and object play, including play-signals and coopertive social conventions. However, the scale of complexity of avian play appears to be shifted relative to that of mammals. When we compare birds and mammals that have comparable ecological niches and that form equivalent societies, we find similarities in the structure and content of play, but difference in its elaborateness. The play of birds is less complex than that of sociobiologically equivalent mammals and seems to reflect corresponding differences in relative brain size or complexity." (Fagen, Robert (1981) Animal Play Behavior: New York: Viking. pp. 22-23)

"Given a nominal definition of "play." however unsatisfactory, weshould seek a real definition of the conceptual aggregate "play," whose three capitols are (1) playfighting and play-chasing, (2) locomotor-rotational exercise, and (3) post-mastery manipulaition. These three classes of behavior may appear to have little of biological importance in common, and a current trend in play research is to view them as categories of behavior, valid in their own right, whose structure, causation, and function are (at least for the time being) best analyzed separately." (Fagen, Robert (1981) Animal Play Behavior: New York: Viking. pp. 43) [Fagen goes on to say he in reluctant to separate all three except for exploration purposes]

The value of these generalizations depends on the meaning of the term "functional context," on the type of comparison made, and on the ability or willingness of students of play behavior to distinguish play form other out-of-context behavior exhibiting the relative structural characteristics of exaggeration, repetition, and unpredictablity." (Fagen, Robert (1981) Animal Play Behavior: New York: Viking. pp. 45)

"I view play as behavior that functions to develop, practice, or maintain physical or cognitive abilities and social relationships, including both tactics and strategies, by varying, repeating, and/or recombining already functional subsequences of behavior outside their primary context." (Fagen, Robert (1981) Animal Play Behavior: New York: Viking. pp. 65)

"Chimpanzee play shares certain characteristics with the play of other primates. These characterisics include a play-specific facial expression, nonagonistic modification of aggressive chasing and wrestling patterns, use of objects in social play, and vigorous repeated solo locomotor-rotational projects and exerises. Considerable tickling, frequent object play in the wild, and well-developed play between mother and offspring apparently distinguish chimpanzee play from the play of all other nonhuman primates. (However, it is not yet clear that these features are absent from orangutan or gorilla play.) In the chimpanzees at Gombe (van Lawick-Goodall 1968a, 1971), as in other wild chimpanzee populations (Reynolds & Reynolds 1965), social play consists of 'chasing, wrestling, sparring (when one individual hits towards another who fends him off, and vice versa), play biting, thumping and kicking (when the playmate is hit hard with the palm or knuckle of one or both hands of the heel or sole of the foot), butting with the head and a variety of "tickling" and poking movements. Tickling was done either with the mouth, when the animal made a series of nibbling nuzzling movements with the lips pulled inwards over the teeth or with the hands with the chimpanzee made prodding flexing movements of the fingers in the same way as does a human with tickling. A varient on this was "finger wrestling" when an individual (usually mature male) reached to the hand or foot of another and made gentle tickling, pulling and squeezing movments. During play sessions, chimpanzees made use of a wide variety of the objects of their environment: they climbed, jumped, swung and dangled from branches of trees, chased round tree trunks, broke off and waved or carried branches, leaves, or fruit clusters, grappled with each other for an assortment of small objects, dragged and hit each other with branches, and so on' (van Lawick-Goodal 1968a)." (Fagen, Robert (1981) Animal Play Behavior: New York: Viking. pp. 109)

"Chimpanzees invite play in many ways (van Lawick-Goodall 1968a, 1973). The chimpanzee play-face is typically accompanied by a rhythmic vocalization resembling (but not identical to) human laughter (Marler & Tenaza 1977). This play-specific vocalization is not known in other nonhuman primates. There are particular play-gaits as well (van Lawick-Goodall 197=68a). Novel use of a facial expression as a play-signal is an example of a cultural element in chimpanzee behavior..." (Fagen, Robert (1981) Animal Play Behavior: New York: Viking. pp. 109)

"Object manipulation by wild chimpanzee infants is much more common (McGrew 1977) than previously supposed, and most object manipulation by immature chimpanzees exhibits clear structural and functional hallmarks of play. Object manipulation may develop certain tool skills." (Fagen, Robert (1981) Animal Play Behavior: New York: Viking. pp. 109)

But such paedomorphic trend culd be explained if we could somehoe show that it was part and parcel of the overall process of female choice for hunting skills. In fact, this is easier than it seems, because there are good reasons for believing that it would have been young, rather than mature, male hominids who first began to hunt. Experiments in which a colony of monkeys living near a beach were fed first with potatoes and then with rice left on the sand showed that it was a young member of the group who first discovered how to wash the food (as it happens, a female) and that the readiness to adopt this practice varied directly with age, younger individuals being more ready to take it up than older one. In the second place, it seems likely that younger, unmated males, probably associating in loose "all-male groups." would have been much better placed to undertake what must have been cooperative hunts than were older males encumbered with females and young who could not be left unguarded while their "owner" ran off chasing game. If homihid females with a taste for meat were prepared to reward younger, meat-giving hunters with matings, the reproductive success of such younger males would rise relative to that of older ones. This in itself could favor paedomorphosis by way of selection for youth, but it would also have set the scene for the other inevitable consequence of a meat-eating economy, in which greatly increased male parental investment could enable the gradual evolution of more retarded, paedomorphic infants." (Badcock, C. (1991) Evolution and Individual Behavior: An Introduction to Human Sociobiology Oxford: Blackwell.pp. 186)

"Behavior of a child at play with a object or a body part is not investigation (Aldis 1975. Hutt 1966, 1970). The child plays with items that have already been investigated and are familiar. The item is appraoched rapidly and in a relaxed manner, the child's muscles are not tense, receptors may diverge from the item, the behavior is often physically vigorous, responses increase and then decrease over time, and the child decorates its behavior with locomotor-rotational movements and even with play-signals. These signals are not random, functionless events. A human child will not be left alone for a long time to play, nor will it play if left alone for a long time. These signals could serve to inform a caregiver of the child's state and attitude. They tell a watching parent or other kin that the child is comfortable and well-fed, is neither uncertain nor fearful, and is currently engaged in play. Manipulative play is self-oriented effector activity designed to answer the question "What can I do with this item?" (Fagen, Robert (1981) Animal Play Behavior: New York: Viking. pp. 118)

"A feature of human play whose uniqueness cannot be questioned is construction and use of toys, objects fashioned with varying degrees of sophistication for the specific purpose of use in play. Although individuals of many species, including wasps, blue jays, and chimpanzees, construct and use tools (Beck 1975, 1978), no nonhuman species is known to modify of fashion objects for the use of its young in play." (Fagen, Robert (1981) Animal Play Behavior: New York: Viking. pp. 119)

"Human infants begin game-like interactions with a caregiver (usually the mother) as early as the second month of life. In these interactions, the mother adjusts the tempo, sequence, and coordination of her activities to the changing behavior patterns of her infant, "timing her own interventions...in such a way that she supports and extends" the exchange (Dunn 1976). Mothers, exaggerate and prolong their facial expressions, movements, and vocalizations during these episodes (Stern 1974b). Mutual gazing is marked at this early age. American mothers of 3- to 4-month-old infants direct "unusual variations of intra-adult interpersonal behavior" toward their offspring. They may employ a special form of speech ("baby talk") marked by an expanded range of pitch, changes in rhythm and stress, and altered range of loudness and speed of changes in loudness; they gaze repeatedly and for long periods of time at their infant; and they make extraordinary (exaggerated, slowly forming and prolonged) facial expressions, including a "mock surprise" expression with raised eyebrows, wide open eyes, and open and pursed mouth. The infant also performs "an array of facial, vocal and gaze behaviors," notably gaze alternation during which the infant turns toward and away from the mother's almost constantly gazing face (Stern 1974b). To my knowledge such behavior has never been described in mother-infant dyads of any nonhuman species; Hinde (1974 p. 184) views it as "as almost qualitative advance over non-human forms." (Fagen, Robert (1981) Animal Play Behavior: New York: Viking. pp. 122)

"Numerous experiments on, and longitudinal studies of, human children support the hypothesis that play facilitates object, concept, and language use (Cropley & Feuring 1971, Dansky & Silverman 1973, 1975, Feitelson & Ross 1973, Golomb & Cornelius 1977, Hutt & Bhavnani 1972, Lieberman 1977, Sutton-Smith 1975, 1979, Sylva 1977). However, this hypothesis may not hold for all species (Symons 1978a). It is tempting to seek to relate play experience to later innovation in the arts, in literature, in the sciences, or to general behavioral flexibility and the ability to cope with the unexpected in everyday life. Play of a sort has been viewed as the root of literary creativity (C. Bartholomew 1975) and as fundamental to scientific originality (Einstein 1945, Hadamard 1945). Playfulness is termed the essential element in the style of numerous authors, musicians, and painters." (Fagen, Robert (1981) Animal Play Behavior: New York: Viking. pp. 124)

"Sea otters use stones as anvils to break hard-shelled molluscs. Possible developmental precursors of this behavior have been described (though not in sufficient detail to detect possible playful varients..." (Fagen, Robert (1981) Animal Play Behavior: New York: Viking. pp. 153)

"Dwarf mongoose, like banded mongoose (Mungos mungo) (Simpson 1964) and meerkats (Suricata suricatta), play as adults; all three species live in permanent groups. Play of fathers with their children is a striking feature of social behavior in dwarf mongoose and in meerkats. However, in these two species the mother mongoose remains aloof and takes virtually no part in the family's play. (Rasa 1977, Wemmer & Fleming 1974). (Fagen, Robert (1981) Animal Play Behavior: New York: Viking. pp. 156)

"Compared with the adults of most other carnivores, adult felids have large eyes, short muzzels, and smooth, round, wide skulls that rest in a relatively erect position on the vertebral column. In all these respects felids resemble juvenile carnivores of other families and are therefore said to be paedomorphic, or juvenile-like in morphology (Fagen &Wiley 1978). These cranial-facial features are best explained as adaptations related to felid predatory tactics *Carmill 1972, 1974, Fagen & Wiley 1978)." (Fagen, Robert (1981) Animal Play Behavior: New York: Viking. pp. 160)

"Single populations may exhibit year-to-year morphometric variation (apparently in response to varying food abundance) that often encompasses most recognized "subspecies." As Paul Leyhausen (1973b, 1979) has demonstrated, cats exhibit profound behavioral and developmental plasticity as well. For example, differential development within a litter can produce wide differences in growth and in developmental rates, so that some kittens are nearly independ and feed mainly on solid food, whereas other still suckle frequently." (Fagen, Robert (1981) Animal Play Behavior: New York: Viking. pp. 161)

"These social play behaviors of domestic kittens are shared by their wild relatives (Lindemann 1955) and seem not to have been materially altered by domestication." (Fagen, Robert (1981) Animal Play Behavior: New York: Viking. pp. 165)

"Wild swine exhibit forms of play very much akin to those described inthe highly domesticated breeds of Sus scrofa. For example, young of the warthog (Phacochoerus aethiopicus), an African suid with a broad, grotesque face and great curved tusks, head-toss, spring, hop, jump, and run by themselves and wrestle and chase with and flee from one another. They may also manipulate stones and other objects (Fradrich 1965). (Fagen, Robert (1981) Animal Play Behavior: New York: Viking. pp. 185)

"Three different types of "simple" play, none quite so simple as the name would indicate, exist in ruminants. The solo loco-motor-rotational play of the water chevrotain, the unstable playfighting ofthe guanaco, and the cooperative neck-wrestling play (which appears to represent an extreme version of sparring occuring between comically mismatched or harmless opponents) of the giraffe are all precursors, in a sense, of more complex forms of play that begin to appear in cervids, in antilocaprids, and in bovids. What is added may include such complex "games" as tag and "King of the castle"; participation of females in social play; and use of locomotor-rotational movements as play signals in a social context." (Fagen, Robert (1981) Animal Play Behavior: New York: Viking. pp. 190)

"And although these data would be interesting purely from a descriptive point of view, no existing theoritical hypothesis and no measurable parameter (with the possible exception of relative brain size) shows much promise for generating testable predictions. But evidence that play of Caprinae [goats and related species] surpasses that of all other bovids in diversity, complexity, or stability would difinitely stimulate interest in formulating some testable hypotheses." (Fagen, Robert (1981) Animal Play Behavior: New York: Viking. pp. 202)

"No bird, living or otherwise, is ancestral to mammals. Therefore, play evolved independently in the two groups (barring possible play in some common reptilian ancestor). For this reason the comparative study of avian play is extraordinarily important. Because of this importance we must identify major biological aspects of avian-mammalian differences. Birds and mammals evolved from separate reptilian stocks and have been taxonomically distinct entities for at least 180 million years (Colbert 1955, Romer 1966)." (Fagen, Robert (1981) Animal Play Behavior: New York: Viking. pp. 203)

"Play in birds differs little from play in mammals once w factor out the constraints imposed by aerial locomotion and by a relatively small brain. Medium-sized passerines and larines exhibit rodent-like exercise play, complete with locomotor-rotational movements, and they occasionally perform ambiguous playfights and play-chases. Raptors exhibit varied carnivore-like play with objects and prey items as well as simple social play. Corvids and certain parrots, the champion players of the bird world, play as do primates or carnivores, and their play includes elaborate acrobatics, intricate object manipulation, and complex, variable social play including game forms and play-signals." (Fagen, Robert (1981) Animal Play Behavior: New York: Viking. pp. 205)

"Observations of ravens in captivity and in the wild indicate that ravens of all ages play with each other and with objects. Their play behavior suggests that of primates or carnivores, but it occupies a unique position in the natural history of play behavior because the birds frequently use their flying ability in play." (Fagen, Robert (1981) Animal Play Behavior: New York: Viking. pp. 212)

"Over a period of nearly four years Keller (1975, 1976) observed two kea [New Zealand parrots] families and three additional adults in the kea breeding colonies at Zurich Zoo and at Jersey Zoological Park. Keller's study placed particular emphasis on observations of a group of four young keas. Young keas are true clowns. They stand on their heads and turn somersaults on branches, on the ground, and very often in deep water, where the birds may then swim around on their backs or perform pirouettes. Play also includes behaviors that exercise muscles and skills used in flight---skimming the surface of newfallen snow, or landing upside-down, holding on with their feet. A favorite form of play makes use of a swing (a branch suspended from two parallel chains). The keas stand on the seat of the swing and set it in motion by wing flapping or by moving their center of gravity back and forth. Often, two or three birds swing together, exhibiting an astonishing degree of coordination in their joint efforts to put the swing in motion. Birds also swing from a hanging chain, perfoming body gymnastics. Keller describes rich and diverse forms of play with objects and food items. Keas play with snow, making and pushing snowballs. A bird often lies on its back, balancing an object with its feet. Keas throw objects and chase after them. Keller's observations confirm earlier reports of keas floating objects on water, but of all individuals he observed, only one was seen playing this game. Social play in young captive keas is as freqent as it is complex. Numerous postures and body movements serve to elicit play. These play-signals include stiff-legged walking, "teasing" the partner by manipulating objects, rolling on one's back, and adopting a defensive posture with head down and foot raised. If the partner responds to these solicitations, playfighting and play-chasing follow. Two animals may wrestle with their beaks, or they may adopt a stand-up/belly-up position. Social play is silent in keas, but when one bird occupies an elevated position and the others try to knock or pull it down ("King of the castle"), all birds vocalize. Hide-and-seek is a second kea game having mammalian counterparts. So spectacular and so well-documented is kea play we may confidently predict similarly complex behavior in other larger-brained, large-bodied, long-lived parrots having known manipulative skill including macaws, Amazons, and the African grey parrot. Brief reports of play in the kea's close relative the kaka (Nestor meridionalis) (Jackson 1963b), in golah (Kakatoe roseicapilla) (Brereton 1971), and in captive hyacinethine macaws (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus) (Hick 1962), African grey parrots and blue-fronted Amazons (Braun 1952) confirm this expectation." (Fagen, Robert (1981) Animal Play Behavior: New York: Viking. pp. 215-6) [do the long lived aspect of these animals with big brains, simulated speech (highly adative vocal talents) and play suggest highly neotenous influences? How are parrots human equivalents in the bird world? Is it possible that parrots have highly detailed mating processes involving sound, movement, and looks?]

"Attempts to integrate the natural history of play with life-history theory at the level of gross life-history patterns are suggested at best (Fagen 1977, Gould1977), especially since life-history theory as such has little to say about the degree to which environmental variation within the life of the individual should modify that individual's development. Indeed, two opposite speculations exist. Lorenz (1956), Morris (1964), and Geist (1978a) claim that play is most likely in morphologically unspecialized, ecologically opportunistic organisms, "specialists for non-specialization." In life-history terms, these organisms would be r-selected. Fagen (1974a, 1977) and Gould (1977) see play as a behavior or K-selected species, species expected to have large brains, slow development, and intense parental care. The latter point of view is also implicit in Happold's (1976a,b) comparison of play in conilurine rodents whose life-history patterns differ." (Fagen, Robert (1981) Animal Play Behavior: New York: Viking. pp. 256)

"A seeming paradox in the study of form is that certain species lose highly developed adult characteristics of their evolutionary ancestors and exhibit a unique, relatively undifferentiated morphology that actually resembles that of an immature animal. In these so-called paedomorphic species, the head and brain are large relative to the body, the eyes are large, and the muzzel is short, giving the organism a child-like phenotype (Lorenz's Kinderschema).The physical appearance of paedomorphic species is striking, and fully adult members of these species are often mistaken for juveniles at first sight." (Fagen, Robert (1981) Animal Play Behavior: New York: Viking. pp. 257)

"A seeming paradox in the study of form is that certain species lose highly developmed adult characteristics of their evolutionary ancestors and exhibit a unique, relatively undifferentiated morphology that actually resembles that of an immature animal. .... By the principle of allocation, an animal or a plant whose rate of sexual maturation is accelerated by evolution puts its resources into reproduction and accordingly diverts these resources into reproduction and accordingly diverst these resources from growth and differentiation of other body components, whose development then slows down or ceases completely. This process of acceleration of sexual maturation relative tothe development of the rest of the body, known as progenesis, yields a paedomorphic adult adapted to rapid reproduction. It is an opportunist, designed to exploit localized and transient resource patches. It fecundity is high, and its ability to withstand environmental induced stresses, such as extreme temperatures or predation, is correspondingly low. A prediction of life-history theory well supported by available data (Gould 1977) is that such organisms will evolve in severely fluctuating environments in which even adults cannot withstand these perturbations. Here age and size at first reproduction are expected to be relatively "lower and smaller, reproductive effort higher, size of young smaller, and number of young per brood higher, than in constant environments, where the opposite trends should hold" (Stearns 1976 p.42)." (Fagen, Robert (1981) Animal Play Behavior: New York: Viking. pp. 258)

"Cartmill (a972, 1974, 1975) presents a second reason for the paedomorphic morphology of both primates and other mammals (e.g., felids) that rely on both vision and use of the forelimbs for feeding. In these animals muzzel length is reduced because the hands or forepaws take over many functions served by the mouth in other species. Skilled forelimb-eye coordination is crucial, and special perceptual and motor skills are required. The result, again, is paedomorphosis, certainly as a consequence of muzzel (rostral) reduction and possibly also through selection for increased brain size relative to the size of the body." (Fagen, Robert (1981) Animal Play Behavior: New York: Viking. pp. 259)

"An important recent result of theoretical life-history analysis is that not one, but several fundamentally different, evolutionarily stable patterns of development may be selected in the same species and in the same environment (Fagen 1977, Schaffer & Rosenzweig 1977). Does this result mean that only historical factors can explain life-history evolution? If so, life-history theory is in big trouble as a predictive science. Shaffer & Rosenzweig (1977) snatch victory from the jaws of defeat by ingeniously linking life-history theory to a theory of optimal modifiability that had grown up independently of it. They argue that if organisms could switch life-history patterns in response to environmental cues, it would always be possible to pick the life-history peak in the adaptive landscape that had the highest fitness, in effect performing global rather than local optimization." (Fagen, Robert (1981) Animal Play Behavior: New York: Viking. pp. 259-60)

"As usual, Karl Groos (1898) was among the first troublemakers, as illustrated by his much-quoted remark "Animals do not pla because they are young, but they have their youth because they must play." (Fagen, Robert (1981) Animal Play Behavior: New York: Viking. pp. 270)

"...six mayor hypotheses about beneficial effects of play: that play develops physical strength, endurance, and skill, particularly in those acts or combinations of acts used in social interactions having potentially lethal consequences; that play regulates developmental rates, that play experience yields specific information; that play develops cognitive skills necessary for behavioral adaptability, flexibility, inventiveness, or versatility; that play is a set of damaging behavioral tactics used in intraspecific competition; or that play establishes or strenthens social bonds in a dyad or social cohesion in a group. " (Fagen, Robert (1981) Animal Play Behavior: New York: Viking. pp. 271)

"Moreover, the sole instance of group play observed during our study occurred before and at the onset of one of the heaviest storms. First one foal, then another began galloping, turning while galloping, rearing and body-twisting until the entire year-class of ten male and female foals, including some who seldom played otherwise, was actively exercising. They did not appear to be chasing or fleeing one another. Each foal seemed to gallop independently in long arcs or in giant circles. The foals crossed each other's paths frequently at high speeds. Remarkably, they never collided." (Fagen, Robert (1981) Animal Play Behavior: New York: Viking. pp. 305-6) [note relation between this description and Goodall chimp rain dance]

"The unit segments of play are simple structures resembling magic tricks, short-short suspense stories, or word problems in algebra. An element of uncertainty and expectancy is created, then resolved. This structure may represent attemps to isolate a single "bug," i.e., to focus on a particular difficulty (Simpson 1976). In one segment, strain builds and is then released when as initially uncertain event occurs to resolve the mounting tension. A play segment is thus seen to contain a single decision (Dawkins 1976a, Dawkins & Dawkins 1973, 1974). Alternatively, me may characterize a given play segment as a pair of events, the first under the player's control, the second contingent to some degree on the first, but also dependent on the surroundings and thus unpredictable (Simpson 1976). Sometimes the uncertainty may simply concern the timing of the resolving event, as a peekaboo or hide-and-seek." (Fagen, Robert (1981) Animal Play Behavior: New York: Viking. pp. 325)

"In many cases these mini-interactions occurring in play are so cryptically simple that the only uncertainty concerns the timing to an exciting event." (Fagen, Robert (1981) Animal Play Behavior: New York: Viking. pp. 327)

"Playful forms of skilled behavior exhibit variation that increases with time as the animal repeats the behavior in succesively different contexts, whereas practice reduces variation as mastery is approached.Play behavior is structurally and contextually distinct from the adult behavior it rehearses, and play continues after mastery. We might say that play develops certain primitive, general skills that can be used in particular contexts in earnest after a certain level of mastery (not necessarily the final one) is achieved. However, the skill then continues to be further developed, elaborated, and generalized in play even after it is put to use in the service of particular functional goals." (Fagen, Robert (1981) Animal Play Behavior: New York: Viking. pp. 329)

"Bekoff (1978b) incorrectly states that no instances of deceptive use of play signals can be found in the ethological literature. To be sure, in all the years that animal play has been observed, no animal has yet been seen to invite play and then immediately attack its partner. However, a chimpanzee was observed to initiate play with another chimpanzee who had food. During their play the initiator sneakily grabbed the food (Menzel 1975). Thus despite the general view among social theorists (Dawlins 1976b, Otte 1975, Trivers 1971, 1974, Wallace 1973) that all animal communication is expected to be exploited for selfish interests, we lack evidence that play-signals are regularly used for this purpose." (Fagen, Robert (1981) Animal Play Behavior: New York: Viking. pp. 340)

"For example, Maynihan (1964) asserts that play wrestling "seems to be almost or completely lacking in night monkeys (Aotus trivirgatus), presumably as another consequence of their slight degree of gregariousness." (Fagen, Robert (1981) Animal Play Behavior: New York: Viking. pp. 346)

"Rats reared in unstimulating environments where they seldom if ever play develop a classic behavioral syndrome of narrowness, impulsivity, emotionality, and lack of flexibility. Rats reared in enriched environments where play occurs are behaviorally plastic, flexible, and versatile; they respond effectively to novel situations (Hinde 1966 p. 385, Levine 1963, Marler & Hamilton 1966)." (Fagen, Robert (1981) Animal Play Behavior: New York: Viking. pp. 351)

"In the experience of veterinarians and pediatricians of my acquaintance, behavioral change, particularly failure to play, is the first and most obvious sign of illness in an animal that may otherwise appear very healthy. (Although I was unable to find scientific evidence for this widespread belief of clinicians, it agrees with my own experience and might merit formal study.) These and other observations suggest that quantity or quality of play may measure an animal's physical and emotional well-being." (Fagen, Robert (1981) Animal Play Behavior: New York: Viking. pp. 361)

"The eyelids may be lowered momentarily in sexual displays (Kavanagh 1978), presumably as part of the social play that often precedes copulation in these primate [doc langurs] harlequins (Hick 1972). Sometimes the eyelid display alone suffices to initiate or to maintain play (Kavanagh 1978)." (Fagen, Robert (1981) Animal Play Behavior: New York: Viking. pp. 415)

"An exemplary approach is that of Susan Wilson (1973), who took ether extracts from portions ofthe body frequently sniffed in play by short-tailed voles (Microtus agresitis). She applied these extracts to other voles that normally did not elicit play from conspecifics, and these treated voles then elicited play, whereas ether-treated controls did not." (Fagen, Robert (1981) Animal Play Behavior: New York: Viking. pp. 416)

"The most exciting aspects of play awaiting evolutionary enalysis are those baffling cases in which play currently appears to be wholly cooperative, without any obvious indications of selfish cooperation or cheating (e.g., gentle play, p. 308). Here, sociobiological analysis of play faces its greatest challenge." (Fagen, Robert (1981) Animal Play Behavior: New York: Viking. pp. 438)

"Except in the spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta) Kruuk 1972), in lagomorphs (Flux 1970, Lockley 1974), and in humans, play in mixed-sex groups of adults appears to be rare in nature unless it occurs as a preliminary to mating. However, one exception to this rule is known and more can be expected. African hunting dogs (Lycaon pictus) play socially before going out to hunt (Estes & Goddard 1967, Kuhme 1965) as do timber wolves (Canis lupus) (Mech 1970) and choz-choz (Octodontomys gliroides) (S. Wilson & Kleiman 1974).

"What an animal does determines the experiences it has and therefore the way it perceives and perhaps even understands its world. In particular, a novel skill can add new functional capabilities to an animal's behavioral repertoire. Behavioral novelty furnished new food sources (Kawai 1965, Konner 1977a, Mayr 1963), changes an individual's social position (van Lawick-Goodall 1971), extends a species' geographical range (Kawai 1965), and even opens a new ecological niche (Mayr 1963)." (Fagen, Robert (1981) Animal Play Behavior: New York: Viking. pp. 449)

"Play could produce innovation directly or developmentally. According to direct-effects hypothesis (Einstein 1945, Fagen 1974a, Fedigan 1972b, Jolly 1966b, Miller 1973), during its play the animal puts together a new plan or treats an object in a new way, and the resulting behavioral effect has some utility to the performer or its kin. As Symons (1978a) points out, this hypothesis is naive. Even though blind trial and error can sometimes lead to breakthroughs in skill development (e.g., juggling, Austin (1974), these hypothetical effects of play may simply be by-products of behavior designed to develop a given behavior pattern through self-generated feedback. The second mechanism is that envisaged by flexibility hypotheses about play. (Chapter 5). According to these hypotheses, play experience with an object, with a skill, with response-contingent interactions, or with another individual develops the player's ability to be flexible and versatile in those contexts, or perhaps even in general (Mason 1978), in the future. How these abilities develop, and how experience should be designed to foster these abilities, is not clear. However, if play develops skill through generalization and subroutinization, it is not a very big jump from skill development to flexibility. Answers to these questions would be useful in all kinds of applications, and of course many suggestions have been made (e.g. Bruner, Goodnow, & Austin 1956, Holt 1967), but these suggestions shed no light on the basic biology of the problems considered." (Fagen, Robert (1981) Animal Play Behavior: New York: Viking. pp. 450)

"Available theory and evidence suggest that human and chimpanzee play, including both specific and diversive exploration, function as a learning mechanism and facilitate tool use as well as other forms of skill and cognitive development (Dansky & Silverman 1975, golomb & Cornelius 1977, Lieverman 1977, McGrew 1977, Sylva 1977, Sylva, Bruner, & Genova 1976, Sutton-Smith 1979.) But nonhuman parallels to human playful discovery are rare. Manipulation of inanimate objects is itself uncommon in nature, even in "higher" primates like baboons and macaques (Symons 1978a). Among primates, only the great apes (Menzel 1974, Rumbaugh 1974) appear to share the human propensity for exploratory manipulation of inanimate objects and that to a relatively limited extent. B. Beck (1975,1978) discusses interspecific variation in ability to invent and use tools and in relative use of alternative behavioral mechanisms conferring these capabilities." (Fagen, Robert (1981) Animal Play Behavior: New York: Viking. pp. 451)

"Questions of origin and of dissemination are independent at the level of mechanism, but not at that of evolution, since "theft" of useful discoveries form the inventor by genetically unrelated conspecific observers would tend to counterselect gentically based individual tendencies toward innovation. Although selection above the individual level is unlikely here, it cannot be excluded a priori (Harper 1970, Poirer & Smith 1974b, Wade 1978a)." (Fagen, Robert (1981) Animal Play Behavior: New York: Viking. pp. 451)

""Play confuses the logical types and illogically negates the dominant agent in a way that reveals new possibilities. At this point, depending on which metaphor one prefers, the subgoal conflict is resolved, the "bug" is found, the dictator is overthrown, the revolution is successful, the cognitive or motor paradigm shifts, a new instance of self-deception replaces an ontogenetically older one, or the developing organism pulls itself up by its bootstraps. The natural history of scientific creativity provides examples of this process. Play has generated insights into major scientific problems at times when individual scientists found themselves hopelessly stuck. Albert Einstein hints at essential relationships between play and creative thought. In a letter to Jacques Hadamard (Hadamard 1945, p. 142) Einstein stated: 'The words of the language, as they are written or spoken, do not seem to play any role in my mechanism of thought. The psychical entities which serve as elements in thought are certain signs and more or less clear images which can be "voluntarily" reproduced and combined. There is, of course, a certain connection between those elements and relevant logical concepts. It is also clear that the desire to arrive finally at logically connected concepts is the emotional basis of this rather vague play with the above mentioned elements. But taken from a psychological viewpoint, this combinatory play appears to be the essential feature in productive thought." (Fagen, Robert (1981) Animal Play Behavior: New York: Viking. pp. 469-70)

"By some unspecified mechanism the cognitive processes of transformation, abstraction, and innovation involved in Kuhnian fashion in animal play are hypothesized to propel human artistic activity, paradoxically recombining experience and creating novel forms of expression." (Fagen, Robert (1981) Animal Play Behavior: New York: Viking. pp. 470)

"The most irritating feature of play, however, is not the abyss, not perceptual incoherence as such, but rather that play taunts us with its inaccessiblitiy. We feel that something is behind it all, but we do not know, or we have forgotten, how to see it." (Fagen, Robert (1981) Animal Play Behavior: New York: Viking. pp. 493)

"Questions about behaviors called play and processes called development are inseparably linked to questions about phenomena called time. Perhaps time itself might profitably be viewed from a sociobiological perspective, in which it (at least subjective time) represents a biological dependent variable, subject in ech individual to effects of competition, manipulation by others, misinformation, and self-deception. I am not speaking of time merely as a limiting resource (as in time-limited foraging), but of the quality of perceived time. From a literary point of view, time appears considerably more malleable and qualitatively heterogeneous than we scientists have led ourselves to believe. In this context, play acquires unique status: it represents timeless experience (Fink 1968).


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