Visual communication played an important role in the domestication of dogs
(ORDO NEWS) — Hungarian researchers found that the ability of dogs to use visual cues to communicate with humans played an important role in the process of their domestication.
“During our experiments, we expected that both dogs and pigs would communicate more actively with the owners in the event that they themselves cannot get food without the help of the owner.
It turned out that dogs really do this, while for tame pigs this completely uncharacteristic,” explained Atilla Andiks, a researcher at the University of Budapest (Hungary), quoted by the press service of the university.
In recent years, scientists have learned that dogs, as well as many other domestic animals, have many intellectual abilities and psychological traits that were previously considered exclusive to humans.
For example, five years ago, Hungarian neurophysiologists found that dogs can understand intonation and the meaning of words spoken by their owners.
Later, American scientists found that four-legged pets communicate with people not for food, but for the sake of receiving attention and positive emotions.
Scientists also found that dogs are able to recognize emotions on the faces of familiar and unfamiliar people.
Interspecies visual communication
Andiks and his colleagues wondered what role their ability to use visual cues to communicate with humans and other pets might have played in the domestication of dogs and other pets.
In the past, scientists believed that this behavior was characteristic only of domestic animals, but recently zoologists have discovered that some species of primates and other mammals behave in this way.
Guided by these considerations, scientists followed how dogs and tame pigs behave in the presence and absence of their owners in a room in which their favorite food is hidden at a height inaccessible to them.
Under such conditions, as the researchers suggested, pets will be forced to communicate with the owner and actively point him to the point in space where the food is.
Subsequent observations showed that dogs and pigs behaved in the same way in this room without the presence of the owner, however, when the owner was present, the first actively communicated with the person and “aimed” his attention to the hidden food, while the pigs ignored people and continued to independently try to get it.
Such differences in pet behavior, scientists note, well reflect the fact that dogs use visual cues to communicate with others, while pigs rely mainly on sounds and smells.
For this reason, Andix and his colleagues believe that the ability to recognize and use visual cues in communicating with relatives and members of other species played an important role in the domestication of dogs.
This ability allowed them to “get ahead” of cats, pigs and other animals and become the first full-fledged four-legged human companions, the scientists concluded.
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