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Goats can communicate with us just like dogs and cats do, says latest research

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Posted on July 12, 2016: We know how dogs read our faces to gauge your emotional states, while cats meow at us to communicate their demands. Domesticated animals have, over the years, learned to read our expressions and gestures and communicate with us in a manner that we can understand.

Goats, says latest research from the Queen Mary University of London, are just as adept at gazing at human faces to communicate and fulfil complex tasks as are trained dogs. Scientists from the UK-based university experimented on goats by training them to open the lid of a box for a reward. They found that the goats kept looking at the human experimenter in the room for help. They alternated between looking at the person facing them, while the previous experimenter turned his back on them. They looked at the person facing them longer and more often.

The findings of the team of researchers from the University’s School of Biological and Chemical Sciences have been compiled in a paper published in the journal Biology Letters.

“Goats gaze at humans in the same way as dogs do when asking for a treat that is out of reach, for example. Our results provide strong evidence for complex communication directed at humans in a species that was domesticated primarily for agricultural production, and show similarities with animals bred to become pets or working animals, such as dogs and horses,” author Dr Christian Nawroth said in a University publication.

“Goats were the first livestock species to be domesticated, about 10,000 years ago. From our earlier research, we already know that goats are smarter than their reputation suggests, but these results show how they can communicate and interact with their human handlers even though they were not domesticated as pets or working animals,” lead author Dr Alan McElligott from the School’s Department of Biological and Experimental Psychology added.

The researchers hope to see an improvement in animal welfare of livestock animals with a better understanding of their sentient and cognitive abilities.

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