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Is Goat Man's New Best Friend? Scientist Says Goats Are Just As Clever As Dogs

A new study finds that goats are just as clever and affectionate as dogs. Could a goat be man's new best friend?

Findings from a new research from the Queen Mary University of London suggest that goats are on the same route to domestication as dogs.

The research was published in the Biology Letters journal on July 5.

In the study, the researchers gave goats a reward-based task that involves taking a lid off a box wherein a treat awaits. When the researchers decided to increase the level of difficulty to "impossible," the goats in the study "gazed" at the nearby human researchers similar as to what dogs do when they give their humans the "puppy eyes" look.

Just like dogs, the confused goat participants turned to their human owners in a way that looked as if they were pleading for help in order to get the treats inside the closed box. The researchers noted that the goats gazed longer when humans were looking at them compared to when the owners were not looking.

In the new study, the research team also showed that goats were capable of determining how to open the sealed box using levers. This type of tasks is used to gauge intelligence levels among apes.

"Goats gaze at humans in the same way as dogs do when asking for a treat that is out of reach," said study author Dr. Christian Nawroth. The experiments were conducted at the Buttercups Sanctuary for Goats.

According to Dr. Jenna Kiddie, Anglia Ruskin University's senior lecturer in animal behavior and welfare, canines evolved to follow human's gaze because the latter needed them to become good hunting companions.

"We've never had any social need from goats apart from their meat and milk, so this research really throws that into the water," added Kiddie.

Researchers have long studied dogs and wolves in the hopes to explain why one evolved to become domesticated while other remained wild. However, data on farmyard animals is a bit more irregular.

While there are already data on cognition, there are several social aspects of the relationship between animals and humans that have yet to be explored.

Goats have a natural desire to explore, and it provides a window for cross-species sociability. In fact, goats were the first species domesticated by humans about 10,000 years ago.

Britain is home to about 100,000 goats. Around the world, there are about a billion goats, but until recently, humans believed that goats and sheep share the same level of intelligence.

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