(NEW YORK) -- Not only are wolves social animals, similar in some ways to humans and chimpanzees, but according to a new study, they may also share a propensity for contagious yawning, just like primates.
According to the study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, wolves do yawn contagiously, but perhaps more interestingly, they are more prone to do so around other wolves with which they are closely bonded. Researchers at the University of Tokyo said that this could be a sign that wolves show empathy by yawning.
The study also found that female wolves were quicker to yawn and yawned more frequently when around a yawning "friend." Male wolves only yawned more frequently. Perhaps, researchers suggest, female wolves are more attuned to social clues.
The study also suggests that empathy may have existed farther back in mammalian history than previously known.
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