Around 18 thousand years ago, wild wolves and humans joined together in one of history's most celebrated interspecies partnerships -- bringing rise to our beloved canine friends, domestic dogs. But as unlikely as this pairing might seem when you really think about it, new research suggests that wolves are naturally more attentive to us than previously thought.
According to a new study, wolves appear to have an innate propensity to learn from people, an ability once thought to have resulted only from domestication.
Researchers conducted an experiment wherein either a human or trained dog "demonstrator" hid food in a meadow while wolves and dogs could watch. Domesticated dogs, already familiar with cues from humans, would likely find it with little difficulty -- but the wolves seemed to understand just as well.
The wolves and dogs were two to four times more likely to find the snack after watching a human or dog demonstrator hide it, and this implies that they had learnt from the demonstration instead of only relying on their sense of smell. Moreover, they rarely looked for the food when the human demonstrator had only pretended to hide it, and this proves that they had watched very carefully.
[...]Prehistoric humans and the ancestors of dogs could build on this ability to better coordinate their actions.