A recent New York Times article highlights the work of researchers who have spent the past few years studying great ape’s behaviors in captivity and in the wild. Perhaps you have seen videos of gorillas and chimpanzees at play, swinging and spinning from ropes or in kiddie pools.
Researchers hypothesize that much like children playing on a playground or rolling down a hill, apes also know that spinning really fast creates a pleasurable dizzy sensation for a few moments. They seek out these altered states in captivity and also in the wild.
While spinning is both fun and exhilarating, the study also calculated the rate at which the apes spun, some with a speed and number of revolutions per second that rival even the best trained dancers. When finished, most of the apes studied seemed to repeat the behavior a couple of times and displaying “play faces.” Study author Marcus Perlman, PhD, plans to continue this research with a larger study including other nonhuman primates, such as pandas and grizzly bears.
The latest dizzy behaviors are just further proof dispelling previous notions that seeking altered states of mind was a uniquely human experience.
For a humorous diversion check out the following link: dizzy primates.
Lameira AR, Perlman M. (2023) Great apes reach momentary altered mental states by spinning. Primates (March 14).
Nuwer R. (2023) Why do apes like to spin? Maybe for the same reasons as people. The New York Times (accessed April 28, 2023).
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