Goats prove to have social awareness when it comes to more evolved species. A recent study shows that, just like dogs and horses, goats gaze directly into a person’s eyes. They try to make a connection and even to communicate their need for help.
The authors of the research explain that this behavior is common among domesticated animals. Goats have a 10,000 years old shared history with humans, being one of the first animals that caught the attention of our ancestors.
The Talkative Goats
The experimental situation involved removing a lid from a box. The goat would later receive a reward, however in the last setting of the experiment the scientists withheld the prize and observed how the goats reacted.
The researchers noted that goats looked consistently to the people in the surrounding when they had to remove the lid. The animals saw who looked back and followed their answer as if they were asking for help.
Goats would be one of the few species of domesticated animals that use gazing to communicate with people. However, dogs and horses are known to have been much closer to humans throughout the centuries, people even establishing a very close connection to them. They are considered to be highly intelligent and responsive to a person’s situation.
On the other hand, goats are not. They have not been bred as pets. The unique purpose of them being kept close to humans is to obtain milk, meat, and hair.
The Issue of Domestication
The researchers believe the study will shed more light on the problem of domestication. The process involves thousands of years of human interactions. During this time, the animals tend to lose some of their traits and to develop new ones who helped them adapt to the new conditions of the environment.
There is a small difference between animals that are domesticated and those who are living along with humans, without sharing much of their lives to humans. For example, cats are considered by some scientists to be semi-domesticated as they can hunt just as well as their ancestors, while dogs have lost that ability.
As for goats, earlier studies proved them to be more intelligent than it was thought. They have a good long-term memory, and they are able to use social cues to solve a task. They understand human behavior and use it to find their way in a shared environment.
One goat owner even said the animals are loving and socially active creatures, with emotions and feelings. It remains to be seen if goats could successfully replace the traditional companions of humans, dogs, and horses. They need a different kind of attention and care than the highly obedient and trainable dogs.
However, it seems that scientists believe goats to be closer to humans and more receptive than it was expected from animals that were bred only as a nutritional source. The authors of the study conclude that a secondary effect of domestication is creating a communication channel between humans and animals.
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