Social cognition in the domestic dog: behaviour of spectators towards participants in interspecific games

Social cognition, in particular the derivation of social information from observation of interactions between members of a social group, has been widely investigated in primates, but it has received little attention in other social mammals, although it has been anecdotally reported in the domestic dog, Canis familiaris. We recorded the behaviour of dogs ([`]spectators’) that […]

Ontogeny and phylogeny: both are essential to human-sensitive behaviour in the genus Canis


Positive interactions lead to lasting positive memories in horses, Equus caballus

Social relationships are important in social species. These relationships, based on repeated interactions, define each partner’s expectations during the following encounters. The creation of a relationship implies high social cognitive abilities which require that each partner is able to associate the positive or negative content of an interaction with a specific partner and to recall […]

The Spotted Hyena (Crocuta crocuta) as a Model System for Study of the Evolution of Intelligence

Large brains and great intelligence are metabolically costly, but the social complexity hypothesis suggests that these traits were favored nonetheless in primates by selection pressures associated with life in complex societies. If so, then cognitive abilities and nervous systems with primatelike attributes should have evolved convergently in nonprimate mammals living in large, elaborate societies in […]

Evidence from four lemur species that ringtailed lemur social cognition converges with that of haplorhine primates

Many haplorhine primates flexibly exploit social cues when competing for food. Whether strepsirrhine primates possess similar abilities is unknown. To explore the phylogenetic origins of such skills among primates, we tested ringtailed lemurs, Lemur catta, for their ability to exploit social cues while competing for food. We found that in two contexts ringtailed lemurs spontaneously […]

Rhesus Monkeys (Macaca mulatta) Rapidly Learn To Select Dominant Individuals in Videos of Artificial Social Interactions Between Unfamiliar Conspecifics

Social animals, such as primates, must behave appropriately in complex social situations such as dominance interactions. Learning dominance information through trial and error would be dangerous; therefore, cognitive mechanisms for rapid learning of dominance information by observation would be adaptive. We used a set of digitally edited artificial social interactions to examine whether rhesus monkeys […]

All great ape species follow gaze to distant locations and around barriers

Following the gaze direction of conspecifics is an adaptive skill that enables individuals to obtain useful information about the location of food, predators, and group mates. In the current study, the authors compared the gaze-following skills of all 4 great ape species. In the 1st experiment, a human either looked to the ceiling or looked […]

Studies in social cognition: from primates to pigs

The stressful effects that environments have on farm and laboratory animal welfare are likely to depend on how much animals understand of the behaviour and intentions of their conspecifics as well as on their understanding of their physical environment. However, studies on animal social cognition have primarily focused on primates. Here, we report on our […]

Dogs, Canis familiaris, communicate with humans to request but not to inform

Dogs are especially skilful at comprehending human communicative signals. This raises the question of whether they are also able to produce such signals flexibly, specifically, whether they helpfully produce indicative (‘showing’) behaviours to inform an ignorant human. In experiment 1, dogs indicated the location of an object more frequently when it was something they wanted […]

Bonobos and chimpanzees infer the target of another’s attention

We examined the ability of bonobos, Pan paniscus (N ¼ 39), and chimpanzees, Pan troglodytes (N ¼ 74), to infer the target of an experimenter’s visual attention in a series of three experiments. In each experiment subjects were first introduced to a novel object while an experimenter’s (E1) visual access to this object was manipulated […]