Sharp intake of breath

Elaine Morgan (
Mon, 02 Oct 1995 11:52:48 GMT

We may assume AAT's putative aquatic primates would have done a
significant amount of swimming and diving. During this process,
if anything unexpectedly surprised or threatened them, the first
precaution they would need to take would be to inhale a good lungful of
air - (facilitated as previously suggested by the descended larynx and
the habit of mouth-breathing). Such an essential reaction could over
time become incorporated into the flight/fight syndrome with the other
unconditioned reflexes associated with it.

Modern humans, if startled or terrified, gasp. I am not aware that this
involuntary reaction - the dropped jaw, the sharp oral intake of
breath-is manifested by other species. Can anyone think of an
explanation of this? To date I have not heard or read any accounts of
gasping cats, dogs, horses, sheep, or primates. I would not be too
surprised if such anecdotes ( as in the case of psychic tears) now came
flooding in. However this does seem to be another point which could be
settled fairly simply by non-invasive experimental research.