In the animal kingdom, different signs of affection between couples and family groups have been observed, but only some animals kiss, like in the case of certain primate species. Animals don’t need kissing to find a compatible partner, because, in nature, chemical signals are more useful than kissing.
If we look in the animal kingdom, we’ll see that kissing is even more unusual. Most animals don’t kiss as such, but many of them exhibit similar affectionate behaviors such as licking, hugging, touching faces, and many other habits of social approach.
From what we know so far, the rest of the animals don’t kiss. They may rub or touch faces, but not even animals with lips share saliva nor join their lips. However, there are animals that kiss just like us: the bonobo and the chimpanzee. This isn’t too surprising if we consider that we share 98.7% of our DNA with them.
Is kissing a natural instinct or learned behavior? Scientists are still debating whether kissing is an innate or learned behavior. A large part of the human population kisses, which shows that it’s a fairly widespread act, but not universal.
Pheromones are chemical substances secreted by living beings, capable of provoking specific behaviors in other individuals of the same species. They’re key to finding a partner in the animal world and are recognized by smell. There are different types of pheromones that can indicate different messages: territory, alert, calming or sexual stimulant.
When it comes to finding a re.product.ive partner, animals don’t need to kiss nor even be close to each other. Animals can detect pheromones from far away by smell, and this gives them clues about the state of the other individual. Animals eliminate pheromones when urinating or by rubbing parts of the body —where their glands are located— against a surface.
Living beings communicate different messages by means of smells. This doesn’t occur only in the animal kingdom. The aroma of many plants has its function in the survival of the species.
Knowing its importance, it isn’t surprising that smells are key in seeking a partner. Many animals have a special structure, called the vomeronasal organ —located between the nose and the mouth. This organ detects pheromones, and, in some cases, it can do so from many miles away.
There’s been a lot of debate about pheromones and the presence of this organ in human beings. Now we know that we can detect pheromones thanks to special receptors in our olfactory epithelium. However, the influence of pheromones on attraction and romantic relationships is still in doubt.
So, here are some photos some animals kissing (or sort of):