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Chimps not as smart as dogs?: Jane Goodall, check your messages

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In “Humans Evolved from Dogs” Creation-Evolution Headlines (February 10, 2012) asks,

A new finding shows dogs performing better on one kind of intelligence test than chimpanzees. If evolution teaches that human intelligence is the main trait separating us from other animals, and dogs are smarter than apes, shouldn’t the conclusion be that dogs are closer on the family tree? If not, is it valid for evolutionary biologists to pick and choose the traits that matter?

Why ask? Well,

A new paper in PLoS ONE had the surprising title, “Dogs (Canis familiaris), but Not Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), Understand Imperative Pointing.” Researchers at Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology worked with 32 dogs of different breeds, and 20 chimpanzees at reserves in Germany and Uganda. They gave them simple tests to see if they could figure out where food was by pointing at it. Despite rigorous attempts to rule out background causes or other distractions, the dogs scored much higher; the chimps just couldn’t get the message. Jennifer Viegas at Live Science headlined the story, “Dogs Understand Us Better Than Chimps Do.”

What it may mean is that dogs got smarter about that, due to living with humans. They discovered that humans often point a finger to convey a message.

What’s remarkable about all this is that dogs don’t even have fingers, but chimps do.

So dogs learned to detect a message using fingers, which they don’t have, but chimps, which have fingers, didn’t learn to detect the message? Jane Goodall, check YOUR messages.

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Neil, it disturbs me a little that you can't tell who is doing the arguing here. The article is making the case, not the web author. He is simply "pointing out" so to speak, that dogs have the ability to understand complex body language that utilizes an appendage we don't have in common. Whereas one of the most celebrated and heralded things we have it common with chimps is hands, and yet they cannot understand the simplest of gestures, which is ironic because... ...yes, chimps are good at pointing. They point and push with their fingers all the time. That's why this study surprised the scientists and even had them resorting to excuses like "distractions" and "background noises." Another day, another unexplained anomaly that will be swept under the "scientific" doormat because it doesn't help the case of chimp to human evolution. And no, "ArifSel" is not interchangeable with micro-evolution. Please do your homework more thoroughly. Dood
Skidboot is the smartest dog you'll ever see. The Amazing Skidboot http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2BfzUIBy9A bornagain77
Wow, poor argument you're making. Over 10's of k-years, dogs (or maybe one genius dog!) that responded better to human requests (for aid in hunting say) would have been favored for breeding. (Not a proof, but a plausibility.) And it wouldn't even require NatSel, but ArtifSel ("microevolution" as you folks like to call it). And why presume chimps be good with finger pointing? Is there anything about NatSel that predicts it? I mean, it's interesting that they don't, just as it would be interesting if they did. Either way it's data, which is the stuff you evaluate so you can, you know, refine your understanding of the world, possibly leaving behind that which is unsupported or contradicted. Neil Schipper

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