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dc.contributor.authorSmet, Ann Farai
dc.contributor.authorByrne, Richard William
dc.identifier.citationSmet , A F & Byrne , R W 2013 , ' African elephants can use human pointing cues to find hidden food ' , Current Biology , vol. 23 , no. 20 , pp. 2033-2037 .
dc.identifier.otherORCID: /0000-0001-9862-9373/work/60630540
dc.descriptionWe thank the School of Psychology and Neuroscience of the University of St Andrews for providing the funding for this research.en
dc.description.abstractHow animals gain information from attending to the behavior of others has been widely studied, driven partly by the importance of referential pointing in human cognitive development [1, 2, 3 and 4], but species differences in reading human social cues remain unexplained. One explanation is that this capacity evolved during domestication [5 and 6], but it may be that only those animals able to interpret human-like social cues were successfully domesticated. Elephants are a critical taxon for this question: despite their longstanding use by humans, they have never been domesticated [7]. Here we show that a group of 11 captive African elephants, seven of them significantly as individuals, could interpret human pointing to find hidden food. We suggest that success was not due to prior training or extensive learning opportunities. Elephants successfully interpreted pointing when the experimenter’s proximity to the hiding place was varied and when the ostensive pointing gesture was visually subtle, suggesting that they understood the experimenter’s communicative intent. The elephant’s native ability in interpreting social cues may have contributed to its long history of effective use by man.
dc.relation.ispartofCurrent Biologyen
dc.subjectBF Psychologyen
dc.subjectQH301 Biologyen
dc.titleAfrican elephants can use human pointing cues to find hidden fooden
dc.typeJournal articleen
dc.contributor.institutionUniversity of St Andrews. School of Psychology and Neuroscienceen
dc.contributor.institutionUniversity of St Andrews. Centre for Social Learning & Cognitive Evolutionen
dc.description.statusPeer revieweden

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