Agonistic versus amicable targets of attack and defense: Consequences for the origin, function, and descriptive classification of play fighting

play fighting appears to involve the behavior patterns of attack and defense otherwise seen in serious fighting. The degree of similarity, however, depends on the body targets attacked and defended during these forms of fighting. For many taxa, including diverse mammalian families and some birds, the same targets are attacked and defended during both play fighting and serious fighting. However, for several species of muroid rodents, the targets of play fighting are not the same as those of serious fighting. In these cases, the tactics of attack and defense are also different. It is argued that for these muroid species the playful targets have arisen from amicable behavior (e.g., social investigation, greeting, allogrooming) rather than, as appears to be the case in so many other taxa, from agonistic behavior. These data strongly suggest that “play fighting ” has evolved from different precursors in different taxa and thus has multiple origins. Furthermore, these data have an important bearing on the universal applicability of many of the suggested functions of play fighting and also on how such behavior is to be described and classified. Copyright © 1988 Wiley?Liss, Inc., A Wiley Company

play fighting appears to involve the behavior patterns of attack and defense otherwise seen in serious fighting. The degree of similarity, however, depends on the body targets attacked and defended during these forms of fighting. For many taxa, including diverse mammalian families and some birds, the same targets are attacked and defended during both play fighting and serious fighting. However, for several species of muroid rodents, the targets of play fighting are not the same as those of serious fighting. In these cases, the tactics of attack and defense are also different. It is argued that for these muroid species the playful targets have arisen from amicable behavior (e.g., social investigation, greeting, allogrooming) rather than, as appears to be the case in so many other taxa, from agonistic behavior. These data strongly suggest that “play fighting ” has evolved from different precursors in different taxa and thus has multiple origins. Furthermore, these data have an important bearing on the universal applicability of many of the suggested functions of play fighting and also on how such behavior is to be described and classified. Copyright © 1988 Wiley?Liss, Inc., A Wiley Company

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