There are several reasons to suppose humor and laughter could be evolutionarily adaptive. […] the complexity of humor implicates an established genetic substrate that in turn could suggest evolutionary adaptiveness. Given that even a simple joke can utilize language skills, theory-of-mind, symbolism, abstract thinking, and social perception, humor may arguably be humankind's most complex cognitive attribute. Despite its ostensible complexity, humor is also paradoxically reflexive — people typically laugh without consciously appreciating all the causal factors.
Source : The First Joke: Exploring the Evolutionary Origins of Humor Evolutionary Psychology, Vol. 4 issue 1.
The question of why humour has evolved - with the implication that it gives evolutionary advantages to the species - has not been answered. There are various theories, for example that it evolved, after language, as a way of maintaining 'group bonding', but without the need for physical contact.
The paper cited above is 'open access' and lists progress-so-far in the attempts to explain humour.
Note: Humour has its own peer-reviewed academic journal. The International Journal of Humor Research
Also see :
Ideas for new topics, and suggested additions / corrections for old ones, are always welcome.
If you have skills or interests in a particular field, and have suggestions for Wikenigma, get in touch !
Or, if you'd like to become a regular contributor . . . request a login password. Registered users can edit the entire content of the site, and also create new pages.
( The 'Notes for contributors' section in the main menu has further information and guidelines etc.)