Many dog owners describe the way their furry best friend "gets" them better than any human ever could. Dogs can always lend a sympathetic ear, and now new research shows that canines possess this ability to understand humans more than any other animal.
A recent study published in PLoS ONE
found that while chimps are humans' closest living relatives, dogs are better at interpreting the pointing gestures of humans, Discovery News
In the study, researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany examined 20 chimps and 32 dogs tasked with the same job - to retrieve an object the experimenter wanted, as indicated by pointing. Dogs as young as 6 weeks performed this task better than chimps, which have previously been proven to have skills in following and responding to the human gaze. The chimps were interested in the animal food offered, but still did not pass the test.
"We think that we are looking at a special adaptation in dogs to be sensitive to human forms of communication," co-author Juliane Kaminski, a cognitive psychologist at the Institute, told the news outlet.
Researchers noted that even wolves do not have the skill the dogs in this study proved, leading them to believe that pressures during domestication changed dogs to adapt to this niche in the human environment.