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Kangaroos Can Communicate With Humans Like Dogs

We all know kangaroos as bouncing Australian creatures that carry around their joeys in pouches, but they've never been considered particularly intelligent. That is, until a recent study showed that they might be a lot more intelligent than previously thought. 

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  • red kangaroo jumping in the air through desert red dirt australia
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    It's not hard to tell when your pet dog or cat is trying to tell you something via meowing or whining, pointedly looking at their food bowl and back up at you, and sitting next to the front door holding a leash in their mouth. Domesticated animals such as cats, dogs, horses and goats have learned to communicate with humans over the millennia they've been around homo sapiens. But a recent study posits that kangaroos are also able to communicate intelligently with humans, despite never having being domesticated


  • photo juvenile red kangaroo with large ears in the outback at sunset
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    In the study, 11 captive (but not domesticated) kangaroos were presented with an unsolvable problem: a box they couldn't open filled with food. Ten of the 11 kangaroos began to gaze at the researchers when they couldn't open the boxes, and nine kangaroos even looked back and forth between the box of food and the researcher as if saying "I can't open it, can you give me a hand mate?"  

    The animal behavior researchers involved in the study interpreted this action as a clear form of communication on the kangaroo's behalf. This is especially surprising because wild animals generally do not behave in this way. 


  • photo herd of kangaroos standing upright among green grass looking at camera
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    Even more surprising was the fact that the study was done with several kangaroo species that are known for being skittish, including the eastern grey and red kangaroos. The authors of the study didn't think they'd get through the protocol of the study, let alone have the kangaroos engage with them in a way similar to dogs (some kangaroos even scratched the researcher's knee like a dog pawing for attention). 

    Until now, the general understanding of animal intelligence is that the ability to communicate with humans comes only as a by product of domestication. However, this new study shows that non-domesticated animals can quickly learn to communicate with humans. 

    So next time you want to ride a kangaroo to school, better ask it first.

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