New Zealand parrot found to have a contagious laugh 

Laughter, as they say, is contagious.

While that adage presumably pertains to people, a team of scientists led by Raoul Schwing of Austria's Messerli Research Institute learned that it is true for some birds as well.

It turns out New Zealand's kea parrot has the power to spread a jubilant mood with its "play call," making it the first non-mammalian creature "to have such an 'emotionally contagious' vocalization."

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Kea -- parrot species
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Kea -- parrot species
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A colorful close-up image of a Kea with a sky blue background.
Kea, Nestor notabilis, on the ground at dusk. New Zealand. (Photo by: Auscape/UIG via Getty Images)
Kea above Hooker valley
New Zealand kea bird (nestor notabilis), a juvenile, seen in profile.
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kea bird in new zealand natural wild
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The researchers discovered this by recording the "play call" of one and then sharing it among other like birds.

Said Schwing, "...it animates kea that were not playing to do so. The fact that at least some of these birds started playing spontaneously when no other birds had been playing suggests that, similar to human laughter, it had an emotional effect on the birds that heard it, putting them in a playful state."

The team plans to do further research on the matter, particularly as it applies to kea social groups.

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