Why are yawns so contagious? (and some other big questions answered)

Have you ever wondered why yawns are so contagious? Or how long you could survive by eating yourself (I wouldn’t recommend it)? Here are some huge questions answered… and some other stupid ones answered, too!

How long can I survive by eating myself?

If you were stranded on a desert island, could you live on slow-cooked forearm, or pan-friend kneecap with sizzling eyelashes, and if so, for how long? Is it a good idea? Well, certain animals, such as mice, insects and sharks, have been known to do this when they are really peckish (why don’t they just pop to Tesco’s Pacific Ocean branch?). The people who lived 100,000 years ago are believed to have been cannibals, which suggests humans are not poisonous. But eating yourself?

A few problems with chopping off your arm – firstly, you wouldn’t have an arm anymore. You don’t want to do anything ‘armful to your body! (Sorry, I just had to). Second, the pain and shock of losing an arm might be deadly. In fact, your body will use as much energy from healing the wound as it would get from devouring your arm! So, in reality, there is not too much of an advantage of leg casserole, or torso pizza, for your tea…

desert island

Which are smarter – cats or dogs?

Dogs are, of course, easier to train than cats. When you own a dog, it will treat you like it’s master and try to please you – but cats don’t really care about this! However, cats are better problem solvers than dogs. They have even been known to turn on taps, open cupboards and even use the toilet! This ability has been seen in monkeys too, but not in dogs…

Dogs can understand signals and commands which enables them to do many jobs, such as guard dogs, police dogs and rescue dogs. Some dogs even have the incredible ability to detect illness, even cancer, in human beings! Cats, on the other hand, have greater directional skills. If you took a cat miles away from home, it could fine its way back in less than a week!

It’s a very close call, but if you take the weight of its brain in comparison to their body weight, apes, dolphins and whales are the only animals ahead of cats, with dogs coming way down the list.

cat cleverness

So why are yawns so contagious?

The problem when answering this is that nobody knows why we even yawn in the first place. One theory is you yawn to make yourself more alert. Stretching and yawning increase your blood pressure and heart rate, which both make your body more alert. Also, your brain might decide you are short of oxygen, in which case taking a nice big breath is a very good idea.

This would then explain why yawns are contagious. When you see someone yawning, your brain may tell you that the people around you are alerting themselves, possibly to danger, and that you should start preparing too. In fact, yawns are so contagious that even looking at the word ‘yawn’ can make you yawn. Has it?

yawning bear

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