Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Could goats become man's best friend?

July 5, 2016

Goats have the capacity to communicate with people like other domesticated animals, such as dogs and horses, according to scientists from Queen Mary University of London (QMUL).

In a new paper in the journal Biology Letters, researchers from QMUL's School of Biological and Chemical Sciences found that goats respond to people by gazing at them when facing a problem they cannot solve alone, and their responses change depending on the person's behaviour.

To investigate, the team trained goats to remove a lid from a box to receive a reward. In the final test, they made the reward inaccessible and recorded their reaction towards the experimenters, who were either facing the goats or had their backs to them.

Goats redirected their gaze frequently between the inaccessible reward and human experimenters. They also gazed towards a forward facing person earlier, more often and for longer compared to when the person was facing away.

First author Dr Christian Nawroth, said: "Goats gaze at humans in the same way as dogs do when asking for a treat that is out of reach, for example. Our results provide strong evidence for complex communication directed at humans in a species that was domesticated primarily for agricultural production, and show similarities with animals bred to become pets or working animals, such as dogs and horses."


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