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April 4 2013

Monkey See Monkey Do: Geladas Mimic Faces

The ability to mimic the facial expressions of others is thought to be linked to empathy. It's known that humans and orangutans "ape" each other in this way, but gelada monkeys appear to do it too, a new study shows.

The phenomenon, known as rapid facial mimicry, is an unconscious response that occurs when two animals are interacting. Researchers showed that geladas (Theropithecus gelada), a type of Old World monkey, show facial mimicry during play particularly mother-infant pairs. The curious ability may have a common evolutionary root among primates, the researchers say.

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