Domestic goats, Capra hircus, follow gaze direction and use social cues in an object choice task

J Kaminski*, J Riedel, J Call, M Tomasello

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

221 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Gaze following is a basic social cognitive skill with many potential benefits for animals that live in social groups. At least five primate species are known to follow the gaze of conspecifics, but there have been no studies on gaze following in other mammals. We investigated whether domestic goats can use the gaze direction of a conspecific as a cue to find food. They were able to do this, at a level comparable to that off primates. In a second experiment, we tested goats' ability to use gaze and other communicative cues given by a human in a so-called object choice situation. An experimenter hid food out of sight of the subject under one of two cups. After baiting the cup the experimenter indicated the location of the food to the subject by using different cues. The goats used communicative cues (touching and pointing) but not gaze by itself. Since domestic dogs are very skilled in this task, whereas wolves are not, one hypothesis is that the use of communicative cues in the object choice task is a side-effect of domestication. (C) 2004 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-18
Number of pages8
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Volume69
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2005

Keywords

  • EXPERIMENTER-GIVEN CUES
  • DOGS CANIS-FAMILIARIS
  • VISUAL-ATTENTION
  • CHIMPANZEES KNOW
  • PAN-TROGLODYTES
  • PONGO-PYGMAEUS
  • CONSPECIFICS
  • ORIGINS
  • HUMANS
  • COMPREHENSION

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