Lions use yawns to signal to others that it’s time to get moving



Life



2 April 2021

By Christa Lesté-Lasserre

Lions have contagious yawns, and they seem to use the open-mouthed behaviour to send signals to each other. The observation provides the first concrete evidence that yawning can synchronise behaviour in an animal species.“Lions share a lot of things, like highly organised hunts and caring for [cubs],” says Elisabetta Palagi at the University of Pisa in Italy. “So obviously they need to synchronise movement, and they need to communicate and anticipate the actions of their companions.”

Palagi wasn’t planning on investigating yawning lions. But when her master’s students were in South Africa collecting data on spotted hyenas at play, …

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