The researchers held two containers, one empty and the other
containing food, in front of chimpanzees and dogs. Then they pointed to
the correct container. The canines understood the gesture immediately,
while the apes, genetically much more closely related to humans, were
often perplexed by the pointing finger.
That’s not all. Many dogs were even capable of interpreting the
researcher’s gaze. When the scientists looked at a container, the dogs
would search inside for food, but when they looked in the direction of
the container but focused on a point above it on the wall, the dogs
were able to understand that this was not meant as a sign.
Puppies seem able to do this before they have been socialized with human beings.
Says one researcher: "The great advantage of dogs is that we can study them in their
natural habitat without any great effort," explains Adám Miklósi.
Here is the full story, hat tip to Mark Thoma.