February 8, 2005Young foxes, or kits, scamper in a cage in
Siberia, Russia, where they are part of a 45-year research project to
domesticate foxes. Each generation has been selectively bred for
tamenessfearlessness and nonaggression toward humans. By now the
foxes in the project behave like pet dogs, barking and wagging their
tails at humans.
Also like pet dogs, the domesticated foxes can "read" human cues (pointing, for example) much better than their wild cousins or even tame chimpanzees, according to a new study published today in Current Biology. The study authors call such behavior social intelligence. They say its appearance in domesticated foxes may help us better understand how intelligence developed in humans and other animals.