Goats can communicate with humans like dogs: study

Goats can communicate with humans like dogs: study

Goats can communicate with humans like dogs: study
Goats could become man's new best friend, suggests a new study which found that they have the capacity to communicate with humans like other domesticated animals such as dogs and horses.

Researchers from Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) in the UK 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.

They 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, researchers said. They also gazed towards a forward facing person earlier, more often and for longer compared to when the person was facing away, they said.
"Goats gaze at humans in the same way as dogs do when asking for a treat that is out of reach, for example," said Christian Nawroth from QMUL.

"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," said Nawroth.

The research shows that the domestication of animals has a much broader impact on human-animal communication than previously believed.

For example, it is thought that the capacity of dogs to perceive information from humans is the result of changes to the brain from becoming a companion animal through domestication, researchers said.

"Goats were the first livestock species to be domesticated, about 10,000 years ago," said Alan McElligott from QMUL.

"From our earlier research, we already know that goats are smarter than their reputation suggests, but these results show how they can communicate and interact with their human handlers even though they were not domesticated as pets or working animals," said McElligott.

The findings were published in the journal Biology Letters.
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