yahoo– When they’re hungry, they’ll let you know by coming up to you and looking beseechingly at you and the container of food.
If that doesn’t work, they’ll sniff and paw at your leg.
No, we’re not talking about dogs. We’re talking about kangaroos.
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Researchers at the University of Roehampton in Britain and the University of Sydney in Australia say that such behavior led them to a startling discovery: Kangaroos can communicate with humans similar to the way dogs, horses and goats do despite never having been domesticated.
Kangaroos are the first wild animal to exhibit a behavior that is more commonly seen in domesticated species, communicating requests for help from a human, the researchers said. Up until now, researchers had hypothesized that this kind of interspecies communication had existed only in animals that had evolved alongside humans.
The study suggests a higher level of intelligence in the Australian marsupials than had been assumed.
The researchers said they hoped the results would persuade people — especially Australians — to treat kangaroos with more care. Although they’re on the country’s coat of arms and are considered something of a national treasure, they’re also seen as a nuisance and are culled annually because of their overabundance.
There were nearly 50 million kangaroos across Australia in 2017, double the human population, according to official estimates. Farmers complain that kangaroos eat pastures meant for livestock, while researchers worry they are a threat to endangered wildlife by destroying habitat and eating reptiles.
“There’s a part of the population that thinks they’re pests and dumb and want to shoot them,” said Alan McElligott, lead author of the paper. “I think if the broader public has a greater understanding of the cognitive abilities of an animal, it’s easier to sell the idea that we should treat them with the best possible care.”