Marc Bekoff

Abstract

Actions called play signals have evolved in many species in which social play has been observed. Despite there being only few empirical demonstrations, it generally is accepted that play signals are important in the initiation ("I want to play") and maintenance ("I still want to play") of ongoing social play. In this study I consider whether a specific and highly stereotyped signal, the bow, is used to maintain social play in adult and infant domestic dogs, infant wolves, and infant coyotes. To answer this question the temporal placement of bows relative to actions that are also used in other contexts (dominance or predatory encounters) such as biting accompanied by rapid side-to-side shaking of the head was analyzed to determine if bows performed during ongoing social play are used to communicate the message "I want to play despite what I am going to do or just did - I still want to play". The non-random occurrence of bows supports the hypothesis that bows are used to maintain social play in these canids when actions borrowed from other contexts, especially biting accompanied by rapid side-to-side shaking of the head, are likely to be misinterpreted.

Elisabetta Palagi, Giada Cordoni, Elisa Demuru and Marc Bekoff

The concept of peace, with its corollary of behaviours, strategies and social implications, is commonly believed as a uniquely human feature. Through a comparative approach, we show how social play in animals may have paved the way for the emergence of peace. By playing fairly, human and nonhuman animals learn to manage their social dynamics in a more relaxed and tolerant way that results in a more effective management of conflicts. We show that play promotes tolerance, cooperation, fairness and reciprocity, which are essential elements of the so-called positive peace. This kind of peace is reached through an evolving process in which individuals continually modify social relationships to attain peaceful coexistence. In conclusion, we assume that the concept of peace has deep biological roots that constitute the basis for more sophisticated cultural constructions.