Darwin never got around to dogs in his scientific research on evolution. If he had, he might have learned about the evolution of 'puppy dog eyes.'
ScienceDaily released a report in June that focuses on how dogs have evolved new muscles around their eyes, to allow them to better communicate with humans. It took thousands of years, but their facial anatomy has changed to adapt to their domestication.
They've got their eyes on you . . .
Dogs have a small muscle, which allows them to raise their inner eyebrow significantly. One of the reasons scientists believe this is so is based on the fact that wolves do not have the muscle to exhibit the same behavior.
Researchers suggest that the inner eyebrow movement triggers a nurturing response in humans because it makes the dogs' eyes appear larger, more infant-like and also looks similar to the movement humans produced whey are sad, and exhibit more white in their lower eyes.
The Research Team
The research team, led by comparative psychologist Dr Juliane Kaminski, at the University of Portsmouth, included a team of behavioral and anatomical experts in the UK and USA. They published the theory in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
Dr Kaminski said: "The evidence is compelling that dogs developed a muscle to raise the inner eyebrow after they were domesticated from wolves.
"We also studied dogs' and wolves' behavior, and when exposed to a human for two minutes, dogs raised their inner eyebrows more and at higher intensities than wolves.
For future generations . . .
According to Dr. Kaminski, "The findings suggest that expressive eyebrows in dogs may be a result of humans unconscious preferences that influenced selection during domestication. When dogs make the movement, it seems to elicit a strong desire in humans to look after them. This would give dogs, that move their eyebrows more, a selection advantage over others and reinforce the 'puppy dog eyes' trait for future generations."
Only 33,000 years ago . . .
"This is a striking difference for species separated only 33,000 years ago and we think that the remarkably fast facial muscular changes can be directly linked to dogs' enhanced social interaction with humans," added Dr. Kaminski
Childlike appearance . . .
Professor Waller, another researcher noted: "This movement makes a dogs' eyes appear larger, giving them a childlike appearance. It could also mimic the facial movement humans make when they're sad.
"Our findings show how important faces can be in capturing our attention, and how powerful facial expression can be in social interaction."
Only one dog does not exhibit the trait . . .
The only dog species in the study that did not have the muscle was the Siberian Husky, which is oddly one of the more ancient dog breeds.
Hmmm . . . coincidentally, I'm in the market for a dog, and a Siberian Husky was high on my list. Guess, I'll be crossing them off at this juncture . . . at least for another 10,000 years, until they evolve a little more.
Primary Source: ScienceDaily