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Wolves recognize human voices – TVN Meteo

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Wolves, like dogs, can distinguish between human voices, according to a study by British and Italian scientists. “This could mean that animals may engage in much more interspecies interactions than we previously thought,” said Holly Root-Gutteridge, a researcher.

As noted by Holly Root-Gutteridge from the UK’s University of Lincoln, there has been a theory for years that dogs developed the ability to distinguish the voice of their owners as a result of many years of selective breeding. Selective breeding means selecting desirable traits and behaviors in plants or animals. It is a breeding process that is controlled by humans. What about wild animals?

“We wanted to look at wolves because no one had tested whether they could recognize human voices,” Root-Gutteridge, co-author of the paper, which appeared this week in the journal Animal Cognition, told AFP news agency.

How was the research?

Root-Gutteridge, along with other scientists, conducted observations in five zoos and wildlife parks in Spain. Twenty-four gray wolves, both male and female, aged between one and 13 years, participated in the study.

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The team set up loudspeakers and played strangers’ voices to the animals first. The animals did not respond to them, they were busy with other activities. They were then played with the voices of their caretakers, directing them to phrases they used when tending to the animals, such as “Hey, what’s up wolves?” or “Hi little ones, good morning, how’s it going?”. When the wolves heard their handlers, they raised their heads, pricked up their ears, and turned to the loudspeaker.

To test whether the effect was not accidental, the researchers went back to playing recordings of strangers to the wolves and found that the predators lost interest again. Even when the handlers uttered complicated, strange phrases over the loudspeaker, the animals still responded to them.

Interspecies interactions

According to Root-Gutteridge, wolves have the ability to distinguish between human voices, despite the fact that our species followed separate evolutionary paths tens of millions of years ago.

Previously, there was limited research on how animals distinguish the vocalizations of other species. Studies have shown that our close cousins, the gorillas, listen to humans, but that’s what experts expected.

“Chances are that many animal species listen to us and recognize us as individuals,” Root-Gutteridge said. – And it’s not just about us. Dogs can, for example, listen to their neighbors’ cats and understand the difference between one meow and another, the researcher added. “This could mean that animals may engage in much more interspecies interactions than we previously thought,” she said.


phys.org, sciencealert.com

Main photo source: Shutterstock

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