Anyone who has ever spent time with a cat will know that, aside from the occasional pile of vomit on a chair or carpet, much of the feline-human relationship comes down to having one’s hands nuzzled by a small animal.
A study published in PLOS One may shed some light on this uncannily friendly behavior. The study, conducted by a team of researchers in Japan in Tonky Zoological Park, examined the nuzzling and licking habits of African lions in captivity. Their results were strange, but not surprising. The paper hypothesized that lions could very well use nuzzling and licking as a form of tension reduction, and in order express a social rank of some sort. Both these theories were not supported by their finding, but instead, the only supported hypothesis was that lions use what seem to be signs of affection in order to maintain or establish social bonds. Female…
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