A new study suggests that kangaroos can communicate with humans, indicating the large marsupials from Down Under are more astute than humans have thought in the past, reports the BBC.
The study was conducted at several Australian zoos by researchers from the several universities, including the University of Sydney and the University of Roehampton in London. The study was conducted to conclude whether kangaroos “could intentionally communicate with humans.”
They gave kangaroos a task of retrieving food inside a small plastic container. Although the study was done with just 16 kangaroos, they were from various species and it was the first research of its kind conducted on marsupials, according to Dr. Alan McElligott, lead author of the study.
At first, the “unsolvable task” had the kangaroos retrieve pieces of food from an open plastic container. Then the activity got more difficult. With a researcher standing close by, a lid was put tightly on the box so the kangaroos could not open it.
After a moment or so of being unable to get to the food, the kangaroos would look up at the researcher and then back to the box, as if they knew the human could help them solve the problem. Some of the kangaroos even hopped over to the researcher, reaching up with its forepaws to lean onto him, then look back at the box, as if they were asking for help.
McElligott explained that animals that humans perceive to be able to ask for help is something done by animals that have been domesticated for hundreds of years – such as cats and dogs.
This study showed that “Kangaroos showed a very similar pattern of behavior we have seen in dogs, horses and even goats when put to the same test,” McElligott noted.
The researchers hope the amazing results will kangaroos gain more respect from Australians, because according to Dr. Alexandra Green, a co-author of the study, “They aren’t considered as cuddly or cute as koalas, so sometimes kangaroos get a bad rap. Hopefully, understanding that they’ve got these complex, cognitive skills will represent them in more positive light as well.”
However, Green said the research doesn’t mean people should approach kangaroos in the wild, hoping to “have a chat with them.”
“You most definitely should not. You read a bit about kangaroos attacking people, so yeah, I wouldn’t recommend it.”
Although, if you think about it, the same could be said about other “domesticated” animals as well.
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