London, July 11 (IANS) Not just dogs, but goats too have the capacity to communicate with humans as well as become man’s best friend, suggests a study.
“Goats were the first livestock species to be domesticated, about 10,000 years ago,” said lead author Alan McElligott from Queen Mary University of London (QMUL).
Goats, McElligott said, were found to approach people by gazing at them when faced with a problem they could not solve alone.
Their responses also changed depending on the person’s behaviour, in a process similar to dogs.
“The study results show that goats can communicate and interact with their human handlers even though they were not domesticated as pets or working animals,” McElligott added.
Skilled livestock can have an aptitude to solve problems and interact with humans based on their cognitive abilities, the researchers in the study suggested.
The domestication of animals has a much broader impact on human-animal communication than previously believed.
For example, it’s 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, said the paper published in the journal Biology Letters.
“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,” noted Christian Nawroth from QMUL.
For the study, 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 a longer time compared to when the person was facing away.