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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