These Adorable Wolves Play Fetch – And Defy Dogma | SciShow News

[INTRO ♫] For a long time, scientists have believed
that we taught dogs to play fetch. In other words, it’s thought that dogs acquired
some of their unique abilities to interact with humans after
they were domesticated from wolves. And that includes things like playing fetch. But research published last week in the journal
iScience showed that wolf puppies can play fetch without
any prior training — which made the researchers think that this
behavior helped us domesticate dogs in the first place. At least fifteen thousand years ago, humans
began domesticating dogs from gray wolves. Fast forward to now, and there are everything from shih tzus to St. Bernards. Physical changes like snout size or leg length are pretty clear markers of that process. Behaviors, like playing fetch, are harder
to measure. So it’s not always clear when or how they
emerged. These researchers weren’t specifically trying
to make fetch happen. Rather, they were interested in demonstrating
that non-domesticated animals could interpret a social-behavioral cue from humans. As in, they could understand, like, “Go
get the ball!” Now, the ability to act on a human’s social
cue is not unheard of in animals. Previous research had shown that animals like
horses, birds, pigs, and even bats could follow human
cues if they expected some kind of food reward. But those animals usually had some kind of
training or familiarity with that person beforehand. In this study, the researchers got rid of
the food reward and just wanted to see if wolves would play
with them. That would demonstrate that they had some
innate ability to follow human directions. The Swedish research group hand-raised 13
wolf puppies starting at 10 days old. And this has nothing to do with the outcome, but they named them all after famous musicians,
which is kind of cute. The puppies were socialized to get along with
humans, and given lots of space to play. When the wolves were 8 weeks old, the researchers
gave them the Puppy Mental Assessment, which is a standardized
test that some dog breeders use to match their
puppies to good owners. The researchers brought each puppy into an
empty room where a stranger, someone they hadn’t met
before, gave them that test. One piece of the assessment calls for the
tester to throw a ball and then encourage the puppy to return it
— which us normies call playing fetch. Now, not all of the puppies returned the ball. Two of them, Lemmy and Elvis, returned the
ball twice, while another one, Sting, returned three out
of three balls. Good job, Sting! Many of the other ten, including Ozzy and
Hendrix, had no interest at all. But the fact that any of them could follow
human directions without training was still surprising. It made the researchers think that this kind
of social behavior is something that already existed in wolves
prior to domestication. Just not all wolves — only some of them. So humans would have started with the more
social wolves, then selected for that kind of thing over
the years. In other words, we didn’t teach dogs how
to be social — that trait already existed, and we made it
more prominent. But let’s make one final thing clear: This
is an experiment, these are scientists – wolves do not make
good pets. Please do not go out into the woods, find
a wolf and name it Björk, and play fetch with it. In other news, according to a paper published
last week in the journal PNAS, certain plant cells might
be immortal by default — or at least incredibly long-lived. And their graceful aging might be a clue to
how cellular aging works in general. Plant cells, like our cells, undergo senescence,
a process of cellular events that keeps aging cells
from dividing. It’s part of a defensive strategy meant
to keep damaged cells from growing out of control, which is what
happens with cancer. Senescence itself is the final stage of aging, which looks different in animal and plant
cells. When we animals age, more of our cells start
to senesce — meaning that their division slows dramatically. But in plants, it’s associated with things
like tissue degradation. You know, like leaves falling off in autumn. That’s all fine and good — but senescence
at the level of the entire plant means it probably isn’t going
to have much longer to live. In this study, the researchers were interested
in the plant’s cambium meristem, a structure
in the stem that cranks out fresh new cells for the tree to
use through the entirety of its life. But the cambium meristem can help the tree
regrow damaged or broken parts as long as those cells remain
active — theoretically for the lifespan of the tree. Which led the researchers to ask: Could the
production of new cells from the meristem help the tree avoid senescence
and stay alive forever? They studied a species of giant tree in China,
the Ginkgo biloba, which can live to be a thousand years old
or more. The researchers took samples from 34 ginkgo
trees ranging from just 15 years old to over 13 centuries
old. From those samples, they were able to examine
the size and structure of the cambium meristem in various
ages of trees. And they expected to see layers of new cells
added to the cambium meristem every year that the tree
lives. As trees got older, they added fewer and fewer
layers every year, until they hit 600 years old. Then, the rate of new cells being added evened
out and never dropped. It might’ve been slower growth than when
the tree was younger, but the cambium still grew, even after half
a millennium, and that may have helped the tree avoid senescence. The researchers backed this up by showing
that genes involved in senescence aren’t expressed any more
or less often in old trees compared to young trees. These genetic features might give ginkgo the
ability to avoid senescence and live virtually forever. But unfortunately, plant and animal cells
deal with senescence differently. So while this experiment uncovered some cool
plant biology, we’re not going to be using the results to chase down immortality in humans. Thanks for watching this episode of SciShow,
which is produced by Complexly. If you want to keep imagining the world complexly
with us, you can check out the Crash Course Business:
Entrepreneurship Learning Playlist hosted by Anna Akana. If your hobby is slowly taking over your life, it might be that you are an entrepreneur. That’s because anyone can be an entrepreneur, as long as they see a need and take a financial
risk to fill it. Over 17 episodes, Anna will explore how to
take an idea and grow it into a thriving business. The first video can help you figure out if
you want to be (or already are) an entrepreneur. We’ve linked the whole playlist in the description,
so check it out! [OUTRO ♫]

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100 Responses

  1. SciShow says:

    Watch Crash Course Business: Entrepreneurship here!

  2. Sophie Robinson says:

    Human throws ball, wolf pup thinks ""let me check this out. 🏀 ball. wonder if human will throw it again? right! good human."

  3. Evelyn Snyder says:

    Cats will play fetch too!

  4. LoneWolf5841 says:

    I want a wolf so bad lol

  5. Aniruddha rao says:

    How is the sample size of 10 sufficient to say anything about the larger wolf population?

  6. Ben Neal says:

    There goes my dreams for immortality…

  7. amommamust says:

    As an Idaho rancher, wolves are not so adorable when they are killing livestock for sport.

  8. Ed Pietila says:

    My kitten started playing fetch on her own. Now I usually find her toy on my chest when I wake up. Usually it's a rubber band and she gets so excited when I "aim" it. She runs to where she thinks I'm going to shoot it and starts squeeking. When I shoot it she brings it back and usually drops it on my shoe then runs and gets ready for me to shoot it again.

  9. everton zp says:

    1:15 "….animals like horses, GHOSTS, pigs and even bats…"

  10. Steve O'Brien says:

    But wolves have already been tainted by dog DNA

  11. Tebz Nkosi says:

    Regina: Stop trying to make fetch happen, it's no going to happen…
    Wolves: fetches
    Regina: shocked pikachu face

  12. Water Under The Bridge says:

    You should do a SciShow episode about the current outbreak of the Coronavirus in china

  13. themodern age says:

    mean girls reference lol

  14. Im C says:

    The fact that you made a Mean Girls joke.

  15. Ricky Nelson says:

    Going out into the woods, finding a wolf, naming it Bjork and attempting to play fetch with it sounds more like instructions than an example of what not to do…

  16. Stret173 says:

    |Researchers are grevely mistaken if they think elvis and sting are popular(still popular, at least), puts the whole research into perspective, really

  17. Potato Cats says:

    I think the title should also mention the second half of the video. (Because it is also pretty interesting!)

  18. Andrew Balfour says:

    That "fetch happen" pun. kisses fingers Sublime.

  19. rbfreitas says:

    I love these disclaimers: "please don't go into the woods and take a wolf"

  20. Sneaky Boot says:

    Hehe, Dog-ma.

  21. Jamie Lynn Alford says:

    "Make fetch happen" 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

  22. phonzy says:

    Do not go into the Savannah, find a Jackal and name it Anubis

  23. TalenGryphon says:

    The fact that Lemmy Killmeister has a wolf named after him now is oddly fitting

  24. Oliver Millington says:

    What your saying is don't go out into the woods find a wolf puppy and name it björk. What I'm hearing is go out into the woods find a wolf puppy and name it björk

  25. Hannah C says:

    My cat will slingshot legos across the floor and chase after them. She basically plays fetch by herself.

  26. 11cylynt11 says:


  27. DownTopable says:

    My man Hank having a good hair day💇🏼‍♂️

  28. Sean Draco says:

    It's not surprising we catch social cues from animals. My cat listens to commands about 75% of the time without rewards of food. He's so social that as a dog person I love him. Call him catdog sometimes because he acts kinda canine.

  29. ntme9 says:

    Did humans teach cats to step on your face at 5am to wake up and feed them?

  30. Greg Lemieux says:

    I reward my stomach with food when it growls at me.

  31. lloyd gray says:

    Imagine, in an expanding universe, mater produces gravity because St (space-time)=EC³

  32. Lilac Lizard says:

    Alternatively, if you're a tree that doesn't want to die, you can just evolve to encourage fire to kill off all your old growth & make way for new growth.
    No mention of how much the Australian bushfire trees have begun regenerating now they've got some rain?

  33. Bicentennial Nagger says:

    "Fetching" is just a passive version of hunting, and as such, is a behavior inherent in all canines, instinctively.

  34. Aluzky says:

    Not all dog play fetch either. Even if you try to teach them the game, they have no interest in it, they don't enjoy it and deny consent to play it.

  35. Audacious Scoundrel says:

    "watching a person talk at the camera" is a cheap out-dated format, please stop

  36. KittySnicker says:

    LMFAO stop trying to make “fetch” happen, Hank! It’s not going to happen!

  37. Ari Ari says:

    Cats can fetch as well, I wonder if there will be a study with them too.

  38. Preacher Chris Christian says:

    So called 'scientigic experts' are experts on their own narrow minded opinion and that's about it!

  39. futurestoryteller says:

    Lol, I can just imagine some cave man being like, "I think I'm keeping it. Look at what this one does – GO GET IT, BUDDY!… See he brings it back to me." and his caveman friend being like "So? What good is that? I really want to get eaten in two years because you found one that likes to play with sticks."

  40. Brandon Cavazos says:

    Hank: “PNAS”
    Me: “Penis”

  41. Mark Stuber says:

    Didn't they compare this to domestic puppies?

    I wonder how many 10 week old domestic puppies play fetch with strangers. Obviously this control group would need to be selected randomly and not from the same litter of golden retrievers.

  42. Ben says:

    Toss a ball for your wolf pup, O human a’plenty, O human a’plentyyyyy. Toss a ball for your wolf pup, a friend of humanityyyyyyyy yyyyyyyyyy YYYYYY! 🎵

  43. DragonSheep says:

    Hold on, I think dogs evolving from grey wolves is a common misconception. The wild ancestor of the dog is extinct.

  44. Nosknut says:

    SciShow now that so many genders are starting to be widely accepted, the issue of transgender lockerrooms and bathrooms is becoming more relevant. I would love an episode on how men and women ended up having separate showers and changing rooms in the first place. What was the motivation behind creating this concept and why has it persisted for so long?

  45. Sarah says:

    Dogma what do?

  46. Michael Foye says:

    Thats all good and well, but what process can be used to keep a ginko tree from smelling like an open sewer?

  47. lnsflare1 says:

    What's your position in finding Björk, calling her "Wolf," and then playing fetch with her?

  48. seaners24 says:

    I wonder if the wolves will bring back prey to their pack leader as well or does the "fetch" thing only happen with humans?

  49. Cazriel says:

    The "make fetch happen" joke made me groan loud enough that someone in the next room asked what was wrong. Well played Mr Green, Well played.

  50. Maria Arceo Gardner says:

    Defied dogma? Don't you think that's a tad too on the nose, @Sci Show? I audibly guffawed in horror

  51. Michael T says:

    whats dogma

  52. Ryuk Baduk says:

    Ppl are stupid. My family has had pet wolves before. They act like pups. They just get big 🙂

  53. Kelvin Mackinlay says:

    Go fetch me that man's jugular!

  54. Felt says:

    I suddenly find myself having an irresistible urge to go out into the woods, find a wolf, name it Björk and play fetch with it.

  55. SeventyFive says:

    So Ozzie and Hendrix showed no interest in their surroundings, this is more a research about the effects of weed, rather than about wolves.

  56. Elijah Knott says:

    Don't talk to me or my wolf björk ever again

  57. TheSpaceAce says:

    And some people still think they need to hurt their dogs to "train" them, lol (not actually lol)

  58. cheeseman says:

    What if we gave dogs the fetch gene and then some time in the past 2000 years a dog got loose and gave it back to the wolves?

  59. Vincent Bullock says:

    I haven't been following this closely enough to write a thesis but it would seem that scientists have been working from the assumption that human beings domesticated dogs (and other animals) and not the opposite. From the few studies I've seen the obvious conclusion would seem to be that humans learnt many of their social conventions from wolves who were already quite evolved when the two species met.

  60. piccolo3431 says:

    Stop trying to make fetch happen, it's not going to.

  61. Arthur Williams says:

    Ozzy the wolf puppy wouldn’t play fetch because he was too busy barking at the moon…

  62. Midnight Commander says:

    Hehe “dogma”.

  63. White Wizard says:

    My wolf Nuno (yes, she was named after Nuno Bettencourt from Extreme) was an AWESOME pet … raised her from 4 weeks old … the most intelligent animal I have ever encountered … super great with kids … although with the whole fetch thing, whatever object I threw she would run to get it, then find a nice comfortable spot to lay on and proceed to destroy said object … As for dog pets, I will always have wolves

  64. Nathan Lambert says:

    My wolf-dog loves fetch. My labrador can't figure out catch to save his life. What conclusions can we draw from this?

  65. Biz Kit says:

    My cats play fetch

    That’s checkmate, science

  66. OtakuUnitedStudio says:

    I can one up you, none of my dogs have ever played fetch properly. They'd chase the stick or ball, then run off with it.

  67. craig me says:

    Fetch is a poor indicator. I had a border collie, a breed domesticated to round up sheep on command etc.

    She would never fetch, ever. But that's why i kept her from the litter. She looked longingly into my eyes while the other pups when spastic trying to play fetch and jump up my leg. She had more social communication though here eyes and we could communicate with a look more than any other dog that COULD fetch etc. Poor social science experiment. Try communicating a story line about food by using facial expressions. Now that is a better indicator of dog comms, empathy and understanding of human interaction. Social sciences – pfffft. And no cat ever fetched, yet they tell us exactly what to do. We are their slaves. They taught us well.

  68. Torkild Kahrs says:

    Immoral trees?

  69. Silver Fox says:

    So, to quickly sum up the video… they just are very good bois

  70. LoneWolf343 says:

    Don't play fetch with Bjork either. She bites.

  71. Jack Richardson says:

    Human : "Wow who are you?"
    Wolf : "Am Apex predator"
    Human : throws stick *
    Wolf : nervous sweating *

  72. edmaluf says:

    I´ll give it a thumbs down because I was expecting to see wolves playing fetch.

  73. Ambrose Leahy says:

    Imma find a wolf in the wild and name it Bjork! Thanks for the idea!

  74. Don donny says:

    Sorry Bjork. Bye Ozzy. Fetch was fun while it lasted and I'll always remember the love bites you gave me… Mostly because these need stitches

  75. not .hitler says:


    Commence Operation: help arisen

  76. Alphactory says:

    You can't tell me and my new friend Bjork what to do. Even if Bjork has more capacity to understand than we initially thought.

  77. Pe Flo says:

    Why should wolves do that?
    Let them be what they be. The humans shouldn't be allowed to do that.

  78. M W says:

    Our two puppies came pre-programmed to fetch. Zero training required. It was so adorable.

  79. Sport and Health says:

    Ozzy and Hendrix? Of course… 🤣

  80. kkg T says:

    I think either the wolves understand the meaning of ownership and just return the ball back to owners as the ball itself is not a tasty meal.

  81. Uintended says:

    Make fetch happen!

  82. elisa Tigon says:

    Researchers seem VERY behind when it comes to dogs. Many animal professionals KNOW that selective breeding made us choose for the dogs that like to pick /collect things with their mouth. Either for nurturing puppies or for whatever reason, but it is a NATURAL behavior. Scientists….come on!!!

  83. Pipo De Jesus says:

    I love the Mean Girls reference 😁😁😁

  84. Accalia Murray Music says:

    Bjork has to be the best wolf name I've ever heard.

  85. Ace D. says:

    We dont choose dog, dog choose us

  86. Anne Elliott says:

    My dog is a Rhodesian Ridgeback rescue. I've had her for 2 years she does not know how to fetch lol

  87. Ronald McPaul says:

    I bet Ozzy would bite a rat's head off.

  88. Nightfly says:

    Dogs DID NOT evolve from the grey wolf.

    "Gray wolves and dogs diverged from an extinct wolf species some 15,000 to 40,000 years ago"

  89. WinterFowl says:

    My dog does not fetch. If I throw something, he just looks at me like I am crazy.

  90. Franklyn Ovakporaye says:

    A wolf pup named Bjork would be amazing though

  91. Donal Sam says:


  92. DagarCoH says:

    "Leutenant, where the hell are my soldiers? They should have been here hours ago!" – "Senescense, Sir!" – "What? – "Our division stopped, Sir!"

  93. Luda Guzman says:

    My PNAS is big

  94. Sarah Herbison says:

    My cat plays fetch

  95. Aroddo says:

    I once had a minor dog.
    Playing fetch with her consistently caused her to bring back the ball once or twice. Any further throws and she just looked at me with a "I brought you that ball back twice. If you can't hold on to it then you clearly don't deserve it!"

  96. enos218 says:

    Not sure i like the editing on this, (to keep the flow of speech) it sounds rushed.

  97. Kholdaimon says:

    The description of the meaning of the word "senescence" is wrong or atleast incomplete. Senescence is just the deterioration of physiological function with increasing age, it is not a process in the cells, it is the word used by biologists to indicate the negative effect of ageing (ageing being just the increasing of age, without the negative connotations we ascribe to it in general conversation). There are several different terms that are important here:
    – replicative senescence: reduced replication of cells after a number of replications
    – cellular senescence: reduced cellular function with increased age
    – reproductive senescence: reduced reproductive capacity with increased age
    – actuarial senecence: increased mortality rate with increased age

    Cellular senescence (of which replicative senescence is a part and you showed an example at 3:37) is one of the causes of reproductive and actuarial senescence. You use the word "senescence" to indicate both cellular senescence and actuarial senescence, which means you used the same word for both the cause and the effect…

    I know it might seem like nitpicking, but it triggered me… Since (to me) it is a bit like saying:
    "Birds can fly because of their flies, you know, those things on the side of their bodies, flies…"
    "You mean wings?"
    "Pretty sure they are called flies, one fly, two flies, because they make birds fly, you see??"
    "Sure, sure…" Shuffles away while nodding

  98. Brody B’s Bugs says:

    My cat plays fetch with me, I assure you I did not teach her that.

  99. ronnie ssebaggala says:

    But can I name my wolf puppy , Jagger?

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