Anatomy Of a Laugh
Popular Science|Summer 2020
Anatomy Of a Laugh
The oldest known joke dates back nearly 4,000 years, and it’s a fart gag. The fact that we’ve been crackin’ wise for so long suggests there’s something innate about the need to laugh.
By Sara Chodosh

The oldest known joke dates back nearly 4,000 years, and it’s a fart gag. The fact that we’ve been crackin’ wise for so long suggests there’s something innate about the need to laugh. Heck—chimps, rats, and perhaps even dolphins do it. Neuroscientists and psychologists aren’t sure about the exact evolutionary reason for a chuckle, though its ability to pep us up and promote bonding provides pretty solid clues. Whatever its underlying purpose, here’s how a good ol’ guffaw manifests in your body.

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Summer 2020