Some animals that cannot sweat may open their mouths and yawn to cool off.
Scientists are still trying to figure out why humans yawn, and to add to the interest, there are now many studies on which animals yawn and why. Anyone who has ever owned a fish, a reptile, a cat or a dog, or even a mouse, bat or ferret, may have noticed that they also yawn. In fact, most animals yawn, but it’s probably not because they’re bored or sleepy.
Most animals yawn, but not because they are tired.
Some interesting studies have been done on the reasons behind yawning. For example, it is believed that some primates, and possibly dogs and cats, may yawn as a sign of dominance. Observation of the behavior of dogs and primates has shown that alpha males and alpha females tend to yawn more often than their beta counterparts. In fact, this can be considered aggressive in certain species as it is a chance to show off a lot of pointy teeth. People who wonder if their dog or cat respects them might consider counting how many times they yawn when they are in your presence. The owner may not be the alpha dog or cat if the animal yawns frequently.
Some animals may yawn to show dominance.
Scientists have also suggested that certain animals open their mouths wide to cool off. This can be particularly true when reptiles yawn. With most reptiles relying on ambient temperatures to maintain their body temperature, yawning can be a means of promoting rapid cooling. This can also work for animals that don’t sweat, like pigs and dogs. Exposing the mouth and tonsils to outside air can cool the head, even if only slightly.
Most animals, including pigs, yawn.
The researchers also found that when animals yawn, it can have a contagious effect on other animals of their species. Sharks have been described this way, especially when traveling in large groups. A single yawning shark can trigger the reaction across the community, which can be quite impressive or a little scary for people close to a pack of sharks with their mouths open. Chimpanzees have also been observed exercising contagious yawns, but it’s still unclear why they do so, just as researchers aren’t sure why humans have a tendency to yawn when they see other humans doing so.
Bat owners won’t be surprised to hear that mammals yawn.
Many insects do not yawn because their breathing mechanism is very different from that of other animals. Instead of having a central oxygen-harvesting device – the lungs – most insects absorb oxygen from every cell in the body, which is then dissolved into a fluid to transport to all the body’s tissues.
Typically, people will find that most animals yawn, and it’s easy to find some pretty impressive photos online. It’s something most members of the animal kingdom have in common, even if researchers can’t figure out exactly why they do it.