Kangaroos can learn to communicate with humans, similar to how domesticated dogs do, researchers said in a study published on Wednesday. The animals use their gaze to “point” and ask for help.
The study involved eleven kangaroos that lived in captivity in Hong Kong but had not been domesticated. Ten of the eleven animals intently gazed at researchers when they were unable to open a box with food, according to the report.
Nine alternately looked at the human and at the container, as a way of pointing or gesturing toward the object.
“We interpreted this as a deliberate form of communication, a request for help,” Alan McElligott, the Irish researcher who led the study, told Reuters.
The findings challenge the idea that only domesticated animals such as dogs, horses or goats communicate with humans, and suggest many more animals could “talk” to humans, the paper states.
“We’ve previously thought only domesticated animals try to ask for help with a problem. But kangaroos do it too,” concluded co-researcher Alexandra Green from the University of Sydney.