Kangaroos Can Communicate With Humans, Study Finds

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Andrew Jose Contributor
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Kangaroos can intentionally communicate with humans, a study published Tuesday found.

The study investigated undomesticated kangaroos at the Australian Reptile Park, the Wildlife Sydney Zoo, and the Kangaroo Protection Co-Operative, a University of Roehampton press release stated. The study was also conducted by the University of Sydney.

The research uncovered that the marsupials looked at a human whenever they couldn’t access box-enclosed food — a response typically expected of domesticated animals, according to the University of Roehampton.

In this “unsolvable problem” experiment, 10 of the 11 studied kangaroos “actively” looked at the individual who had boxed the food set before them because they couldn’t unbox it themselves, the University of Roehampton stated. Nine of the 11 marsupials demonstrated “gaze alternations between the box and the person present,” indicating “a heightened form of communication,” according to the University of Roehampton. (RELATED: Study Suggests Dogs Can Detect Coronavirus In Sweat)

“In species without hands for pointing, gazing at humans when dealing with inaccessible food during an unsolvable task, and in particular gaze alternations between a human and the unsolvable task (considered forms of showing), are often interpreted as attempts at referential intentional communication,” researchers Alan G. McElligott, Kristine H. O’Keeffe and Alexandra C. Green wrote in the study’s abstract.

“Our research shows that the potential for referential intentional communication towards humans by animals has been underestimated, which signals an exciting development in this area. Kangaroos are the first marsupials to be studied in this manner and the positive results should lead to more cognitive research beyond the usual domestic species,” said Dr. McElligott.

The entire study is accessible here.