In Fox Talk, I describe experiments done on wolves and dogs and domestic foxes, to test their ability to understand human pointing gestures. Comparisons showed that dogs and foxes are better at using human body language, even without prior exposure or learning opportunities.
Domestication’s not the only factor at work though. A new study shows that elephants understand pointing, too, even though they’re not domesticated. Here are some links to news stories about the work:
The researchers hypothesize that elephants have this skill because they, like people, live in complex societies where it’s advantageous to cooperate with group members. There’s likely more to it, though, as wolves and chimps also live in social groups, and both do poorly in pointing tests. This is what’s fun about science – every answer leads to more questions!
Do your pets understand pointing? Did they get it right the first time, or did they need practice and a chance to learn?
Looking for presents for the youngsters on your list? The Fox Talk ebook now comes with a furry friend! The stuffed fox is available in red or white, and the gift set is only available if you order direct from the publisher – click the photo for the link.