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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Yawn, Yawn, Yawn: Emotional Closeness in Wolves and Other Species

     Here's hoping this post will make you yawn. 

       Researchers at the University of Tokyo collected data to show that yawns among wolves are related to emotional connection between individuals. The stronger the bond-- the more likely the yawn. The research is discussed here.

        There's evidence of interspecies transfer when it comes to yawns as well.


       Savor the etymology of yawn:

c.1300, yenen, yonen, from Old English ginian, gionian "open the mouth wide, yawn, gape," from Proto-Germanic *gin- (cognates: Old Norse gina "to yawn," Dutch geeuwen, Old High German ginen, German gähnen "to yawn"), from PIE *ghai- "to yawn, gape" (cognates: Old Church Slavonic zijajo "to gape," Lithuanian žioju, Czech zivati "to yawn," Greek khainein, Latin hiare "to yawn, gape," Sanskrit vijihite "to gape, be ajar"). Modern spelling is from 16c.

       May your day have lots of  yawns with whatever species you encounter today.

Here's to many more yawns,


And, seen at the Smith President's House yesterday (not far from the river otters):


  1. Photo of bears in the backyard of the Smith President's House just added above.

  2. Steph,
    Love your pix of yawning creatures.
    I have always been more of a sigher than yawner. But I do believe there was some interspecies transfer of yawns between me and my late tabby cat Noosie, with her being the instigator. Cats tend to be kind of sleepy!

    I do believe there is at least intraspecies transfer of sighs.Sighs can be downright contageous. As for interspecies transfer if sighs, I am not sure. Do non-human species even sigh at all?

    Speaking of etymology, on this week's Puzzleria!, I used the word "yawp" to partially describe a ubiquitous blog commentor who tends to be outspoken. I used the phrase "barbaric of yawp," echoing Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself."

    When I saw your etymology of "yawn" today I wondered if "yawp" might be related. But it appears not to be.


    1. Thought of Noosie and Maizie, of course, Lego.

      Are you saying that sighs matter?

      Spotty internet since yesterday evening. Yawp, it's a pain.

  3. I fine it remarkable, given the ubiquity of the behavior, how little consensus there is about an explanation for yawning. I remember asking about it during a respiratory physiology lecture, and being surprised at the answer: "No one really knows."

    I've seen no bears in the Great Swamp this year, no hummingbirds at my feeder, not even any daffodils or crocuses yet. But at least the snow is gone.

    1. Yes, I have wondered about why we yawn, too, jan.

      Glad your snow is gone. Our daffodils have flowered and we are now into full tulip bloom. We are at least 2 weeks ahead of the norm. Well, the norm for the past 20 years anyway.

  4. Hope your bears and otters play nice together, if not yawn simultaneously. A neuron deep in my head just fired, Raffi singing "at six o'clock their mommies and daddies will take them home to bed, because they're tired little teddy bears." Yawn.

    1. Me, too. It is very unusual for both species to be on campus, yawning or not.

      I remember that Raffi song.

  5. Replies
    1. That was a fascinating look at the oil biz in OK from so many angles. Now that crude oil has dipped below $50 a barrel over the past few days, it will likely change some exploration tactics and affect fracking.

      I have some Arbuckle Formation, too!

  6. Replies
    1. Here's the cartoon image. The caption is “Kinda makes you feel insignificant and incredibly hot, doesn’t it?”

    2. Took me a minute to see the fire. Ha ha, I like it.

    3. Took me a minute to see the fire. Ha ha, I like it.

  7. New post on "Exquisite Dating Tool: Zircons as Indicators of Earlier Closing of the Land Bridge Between North and South America" is now up.