Despite over a hundred years of research and theorizing, questions concerning play behaviour, such as what behaviour qualifies as play, what brain mechanisms are needed to produce play, and of what benefit, if any, does play have to our lives remain unanswered. Over time, biologists, psychologists, anthropologists, and educators have generated more opinions than solid evidence. Indeed, in the history of the Western world, play has vacillated between being seen as instrumental to the development of healthy individuals and as a childish waste of time. With reference to a range of species, but using the feisty rat as their model, the authors synthesize three decades of empirical research to create the first truly integrated study that appreciates the significance of such previously neglected phenomena as the multi-functionality of play, the different forms of play that exist between species, and the evolutionary aspects that are responsible for it all. Professor Sergio M. Pellis and Associate Professor Vivien C Pellis both work at the Canadian Centre for Behavioural Neuroscience at the University of Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada.