Comparative analyses of the role of postnatal development on the expression of play fighting

Whether it is that animals are young so that they can play, or whether it is that they play because they are young, play should be more prevalent in species that have a greater degree of postnatal development. This hypothesis is tested by comparative analyses within two mammalian orders (primates and muroid rodents) using independent contrasts. This technique can account for the relative degree of relatedness among the species. For both orders, the complexity or prevalence of play fighting is compared to the degree of prenatal development (neonatal weight/adult weight). In addition, the prevalence of play in primates is compared to prenatal brain development (neonatal brain weight/adult brain weight). Significant negative regressions show that 30% of the variance in the distribution of play in the rodents is accounted for by the degree of prenatal development of body size, and 60% of the variance in play in the primates is accounted for by prenatal brain growth. The findings are thus consistent with the prediction. Species with a greater proportion of their growth occurring postnatally play more and have more complex play than do species with more of their growth occurring prenatally. (C) 2000 John Wiley and Sons, Inc.

Whether it is that animals are young so that they can play, or whether it is that they play because they are young, play should be more prevalent in species that have a greater degree of postnatal development. This hypothesis is tested by comparative analyses within two mammalian orders (primates and muroid rodents) using independent contrasts. This technique can account for the relative degree of relatedness among the species. For both orders, the complexity or prevalence of play fighting is compared to the degree of prenatal development (neonatal weight/adult weight). In addition, the prevalence of play in primates is compared to prenatal brain development (neonatal brain weight/adult brain weight). Significant negative regressions show that 30% of the variance in the distribution of play in the rodents is accounted for by the degree of prenatal development of body size, and 60% of the variance in play in the primates is accounted for by prenatal brain growth. The findings are thus consistent with the prediction. Species with a greater proportion of their growth occurring postnatally play more and have more complex play than do species with more of their growth occurring prenatally. (C) 2000 John Wiley and Sons, Inc.

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