16 December 2020 10:36
By Paulina Duran SYDNEY (Reuters) - Kangaroos can learn to communicate with humans similar to how domesticated dogs do, by using their gaze to "point" and ask for help, researchers said in a study published on Wednesday. The study involved 11 kangaroos that lived in captivity but had not been domesticated. Ten of the 11 marsupials intently gazed at researchers when they were unable to open a box with food, according to the report. Nine alternately looked at the human and at the container, as a way of pointing or gesturing toward the object. "We interpreted this as a deliberate form of communication, a request for help," Alan McElligott, the Irish researcher who led the study, told Reuters in a call from Hong Kong.
"Wild species are not really expected to behave as those subjects were, and that's why it is surprising." "We've previously thought only domesticated animals try to ask for help with a problem. "It's more likely to be a learned behaviour when the environment is right." (Reporting by Paulina Duran in Sydney; Editing by Karishma Singh) When 'Skippy the Bush Kangaroo' came out in 1968, it became a global hit. But while the show about a talkative kangaroo is a work of fiction, its creators may have been onto something. Researchers from The University of Sydney and University of Roehampton in London have discovered kangaroos really can communicate with humans. New research has suggested that kangaroos can communicate with humans.
"What they did is they started to look towards the experimenter and actually asked for help, they actually approached the experimenter, they looked back and forth between the box and the food and they were even sometimes scratching the experimenter as well." The study, published in Biology Letters, challenges the long-held belief only domestic animals like cats, dogs, horses and goats can communicate their needs to humans. Lead author Dr Alan McElligott, from the University of Roehampton, says kangaroos are social animals, like dogs and goats, and the research suggests they may be able to adapt their usual social behaviours to interact with humans. "Through this study, we were able to see that communication between animals can be learnt and that the behaviour of gazing at humans to access food is not related to domestication," Dr McElligott said. "Indeed, kangaroos showed a very similar pattern of behaviour we have seen in dogs, horses and even goats when put to the same test." The findings bring classic show "Skippy" a step closer to reality. (9News) The research confirms what zookeepers at WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo have long suspected. "Not being born in Australia, kangaroos were a very unique species for me, so I'm from Brazil and you think wild animals no, you respect their space, don't really approach, they communicate amongst themselves, but these girls have definitely changed my mind," zookeeper Andrea Rausa told 9News. The study involved kangaroos living at a number of zoos in Australia, as wild animals would be fearful around humans. Photo: File/ Geo.tv The study involved an experiment with 11 kangaroos kept in captivity Researchers said the marsupials tried "asking for help" when they couldn't open food boxes The study has challenged the previous notion that only cats, dogs, horses, and goats can learn to communicate with humans SYDNEY: Although Kangaroos have never been considered domestic pets, a recent study has found that the animal may be able to communicate with humans just as well as dogs do. Reuters reported that Kangaroos have the potential to communicate with the humans by using their gaze to point and ask for assistance. Out of the 11 kangaroos living in captivity but not domesticated, ten intensely gazed at researchers when they were unable to open a box containing food. Nine looked at humans and at the container as a way of gesturing toward the object. Read more: Men wanted for killing and torturing kangaroos in Australia "We interpreted this as a deliberate form of communication, a request for help," said Irish researcher Alan McElligott, who led the study. "Wild species are not really expected to behave as those subjects were, and that's why it is surprising." Read more: Carrot-addicted kangaroos hopping mad at tourists The findings challenge the notion that only domesticated animals such as dogs, horses or goats communicate with humans, and suggests many more animals could grasp how to convey meaning to humans, the paper asserts. "We've previously thought only domesticated animals try to ask for help with a problem. But kangaroos do it too," concluded co-researcher Alexandra Green from the University of Sydney. "It's more likely to be a learned behaviour when the environment is right." Also check this out: Kangaroo on the loose in Austria