The longer you yawn, the smarter you are

shutterstock_101742082Yawning may just be the most common but least understood behaviour. The purpose of this daily behaviour has long been of interest with many theories leading the way. In dogs, yawning is thought to have very different interpretations depending on when and where the yawn is taking place. Andrew Gallup et al report in “Biology Letters” states that the leading theory is that yawning awakens your higher processing areas by improving blood flow and brain cooling.

If that isn’t news to you perhaps you may find interesting that the length of your yawn has potential as a crude IQ test.

In his study Gallup measured the duration of yawns for 29 mammals and compared that to the brain weight and the number of neurons (i.e. all the little brain wires) for those mammals. It turns out that the duration of yawns is a neat little predictor of brain weight and the number of neurons. Primates were found to have the longest yawn with humans leading the way.  Here’s a little fact you can quote over dinner tonight:  with the most complex brains we yawn longer than camels, horses, lions, walruses and African elephants …. so when you yawn make sure it’s for longer than your furry companion.

Click here for Gallup et al’s full article


Dr Kate Lindsey

Veterinarian and Animal Behaviourist

Kalmpets Animal Behaviour  Centre


About Dr Kate

Perth vet and proprietor of Kalmpets Animal Behaviour Centre and Dog Day Care, Dr Kate Lindsey completed a first class honours degree in zoology and neuroscience at UWA, followed by a veterinary degree with first class honours, at Murdoch. Since graduating in 2005, Dr Kate has worked as a vet in small animal practices around Perth. As her zoological roots show, she has always had an interest in animal behaviour. Dr Kate successfully completed a post-graduate program in veterinary behaviour medicine and was admitted as a member of The Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists by examination in Animal Behaviour in 2012. She is a qualified veterinarian behaviourist. Dr Kate established Kalmpets in 2012, Western Australia’s only sole focus mobile vet behaviour practice that delivered comprehensive solutions to improve behaviour problems in dogs, cats and pets.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: