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PLoS One. 2011 Feb 23;6(2):e16888. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0016888.

Development of gaze following abilities in wolves (Canis lupus).

Author information

1
Department of Cognitive Biology, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria. friederike.range@univie.ac.at

Abstract

The ability to coordinate with others' head and eye orientation to look in the same direction is considered a key step towards an understanding of others mental states like attention and intention. Here, we investigated the ontogeny and habituation patterns of gaze following into distant space and behind barriers in nine hand-raised wolves. We found that these wolves could use conspecific as well as human gaze cues even in the barrier task, which is thought to be more cognitively advanced than gazing into distant space. Moreover, while gaze following into distant space was already present at the age of 14 weeks and subjects did not habituate to repeated cues, gazing around a barrier developed considerably later and animals quickly habituated, supporting the hypothesis that different cognitive mechanisms may underlie the two gaze following modalities. More importantly, this study demonstrated that following another individuals' gaze around a barrier is not restricted to primates and corvids but is also present in canines, with remarkable between-group similarities in the ontogeny of this behaviour. This sheds new light on the evolutionary origins of and selective pressures on gaze following abilities as well as on the sensitivity of domestic dogs towards human communicative cues.

PMID:
21373192
PMCID:
PMC3044139
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0016888
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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