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Child Development: Toddlers More Similar To Dogs Than Chimpanzees In Social Intelligence

Update Date: Mar 02, 2017 07:22 PM EST

Dogs might be given the title of man's best friend but recent studies are looking at dogs to solve the puzzle about human evolution. In fact, a recent study conducted by researchers from the University of Arizona found that human toddlers are more similar to dogs than chimpanzees when it comes to social intelligence.

According to the study, 2-year-old toddlers and dogs are more similar when it comes to social intelligence compared to 2-year-old toddlers and chimpanzees. This finding from the study could help researchers how social skills of human beings evolved.

The study, published in the current issue of the journal Animal Behavior, investigated whether distinct social skills shared by toddlers and dogs are merely superficial or unique to both species. Moreover, the study bases its hypothesis on previous studies which found that human beings develop basic social communication as early as 9-months-old and these social skills cannot be found in the human's closest living relatives which are the chimpanzees but found on dogs. In addition, these social skills are said to be what sets apart human beings from other species.

Based on the data collected and analyzed by tests performed by toddlers, dogs, and chimpanzees. The researchers collaborated with 552 dogs of various breeds, 105 2-year-olds who took a similar kind of game-based tests, and 106 chimpanzees at the wildlife sanctuary in Africa. The battery of tests involved the assessment of the physical environment, spatial reasoning, cooperative communication skills, and cognition.

The findings of the study found the both toddlers and dogs fared better compared to the chimpanzees. However, the chimpanzees did perform better when it came to tests involving spatial reasoning and physical environment, they failed on cooperative communicative skills.

Moreover, the researchers found that when a dog exhibits good performance on one social skill, it tends to reflect good performance on other social related things. These characteristics that are found in dogs are also found in toddles but surprisingly not in exhibited by the chimpanzees.

The researchers explain that the similarities between dogs and humans when it comes to social intelligence can be attributed to how both species experienced the same pressures that influenced the evolution of the respective species. Specifically, the researchers hypothesized that through the evolutionary processes, humans developed social skills similar to dogs when the species underwent domestication.

The researchers do emphasize that it is only through social intelligence that human beings and dogs are similar and not the rest of human cognition.

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