Kangaroo court? New research shows kangaroos “talk” with humans


It is very common for domesticated animals such as dogs, cats, and horses to try to intentionally communicate with humans by “staring” at them.

For example, when your dog looks at his empty bowl of food, then looks at you, it shows that he knows you are the source of food, and he’s trying to tell you he’s hungry. (Even if you just fed him five minutes ago).

It was previously thought that this form of communication was relatively impossible for wild animals to perform. But a new study from the University of Roehampton and the University of Sydney in Australia shows that undomesticated kangaroos actually pursue the same type of communication as domesticated animals like dogs.

According to Science Daily:

The research which involved kangaroos, marsupials that were never domesticated, at three locations across Australia, revealed that kangaroos gazed at a human when trying to access food which had been put in a closed box. The kangaroos used gazes to communicate with the human instead of attempting to open the box themselves, a behaviour that is usually expected for domesticated animals.

Ten out of 11 kangaroos tested actively looked at the person who had put the food in a box to get it (this type of experiment is known as ‘the unsolvable problem task’). Nine of the 11 kangaroos additionally showed gaze alternations between the box and the person present, a heightened form of communication where they look between the box and human.”

The study indicates that marsupials like kangaroos may have higher forms of “cognitive ability” than previously thought. Future studies will look into how far their ability to think and communicate really goes.

To read the entire article in Science Daily, click here.

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