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Dogs succeed while chimps fail at following finger pointing: Chimpanzees have difficulty identifying object of interest based on gestures

Date:
February 8, 2012
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
Dogs are better than chimps at interpreting pointing gestures, according to a new study.

Dogs are better than chimps at interpreting pointing gestures, according to a study published in the online journal PLoS ONE.

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Katharina Kirchhofer, of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany, led a team in the investigation of 20 chimps and 32 dogs presented with the same task: retrieving an object the experimenter wanted, as indicated by the experimenter pointing. The researchers found that the dogs performed well, but the chimps failed to identify the object of interest.

These results emphasize the difference in chimp response to human gaze, which they have been shown to be good at following, versus gestures.

"The fact that chimpanzees do not understand communicative intentions of others, suggests that this may be a uniquely human form of communication. The dogs however challenge this hypothesis. We therefore need to study in more detail the mechanisms behind dogs' understanding of human forms of communication," says Dr. Kirchhofer.


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The above story is based on materials provided by Public Library of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Katharina C. Kirchhofer, Felizitas Zimmermann, Juliane Kaminski, Michael Tomasello. Dogs (Canis familiaris), but Not Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), Understand Imperative Pointing. PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (2): e30913 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0030913

Cite This Page:

Public Library of Science. "Dogs succeed while chimps fail at following finger pointing: Chimpanzees have difficulty identifying object of interest based on gestures." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 February 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120208180251.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2012, February 8). Dogs succeed while chimps fail at following finger pointing: Chimpanzees have difficulty identifying object of interest based on gestures. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 6, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120208180251.htm
Public Library of Science. "Dogs succeed while chimps fail at following finger pointing: Chimpanzees have difficulty identifying object of interest based on gestures." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120208180251.htm (accessed March 6, 2015).

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