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December 22nd, 2009
Web-Exclusive Video: The Human Spark and Man's Best Friend

As we traveled the world searching for clues to the human spark, we focused on research involving our closest genetic relatives, both living (great apes) and extinct (Neanderthals). Some of the biggest surprises we ran across stemmed from the Dog Lab at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.

In this video, Alan Alda meets with scientist Juliane Kaminski and a very smart dog named C.J. Juliane and her colleagues investigate canines’ cognitive abilities and find that dogs have some talents our much closer relatives the chimpanzees don’t. Dogs don’t share nearly as close a genetic link with us, but they do have one advantage – thousands of years of domestication, living in close quarters with human beings.

What do you think these dogs’ talents imply about the human spark?

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