Researchers from the United Kingdom has found that goats can understand human cues such as pointing, which is similar to dogs and horses.
Roehampton University at the Buttercups Sanctuary for Goats in Kent conducted the study, which provides the first evidence that animals’ ability to understand human-given cues is not limited to dogs and horses, who have a long history of domestication as companions.
In the study, researchers hid food in one of two buckets and pointed the location of the food. The goats who succeeded in interpreting the gesture were then transferred to the actual test.
During the following tests, the goats were confronted with a condition that differed in appearance, but were at a similar distance to the food. Goats continue to succeed in locating the correct location when the pointing gestures were presented in proximity to the food compared to when the experimenter was further away from the rewarded location.
“From our earlier research, we already know that goats are smarter than their reputation suggests, but these results show how they can perceive cues and interact with humans even though they were not domesticated as pets or working animals,” Dr. Alan McElligott, lead author from the University of Roehampton UK, said.
“This study has important implications for how we interact with farm animals and other species, because the abilities of animals to perceive human cues might be widespread and not just limited to traditional companion animals,” he added,
The research has been published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.
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