Is THIS how dogs became man’s best friend? Gene mutations made pups more comfortable with humans
Is THIS Why Dogs Became Man’s Best Friend? Scientists discover gene mutations that lower stress and make puppies more comfortable with people
- Scientists have tested the social attachment of 624 domestic dogs to humans
- ‘Ancient’ races spent less time watching people than ‘common’ races
- The team then analyzed their genomes to check whether genetic mutations played a role
- They found 2 mutations in the gene involved in the production of stress hormone
- Findings suggest that these mutations played a role in their domestication
Dogs were first domesticated about 29,000 years ago and have since become one of the most popular types of companion animals around the world.
But exactly why the animals became “man’s best friend” has remained unclear until now.
Now scientists at Azabu University in Japan believe they have the answer after discovering two key gene mutations in dogs.
These mutations may have played a role in their domestication by reducing stress and making pups more comfortable interacting with humans, the team said.
Dogs were first domesticated about 29,000 years ago and have since become one of the most popular types of companion animals in the world
Dogs were bred to have facial expressions like HUMANS
Researchers at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh recently discovered that dogs have the same muscles in their faces as humans, which allow them to form facial expressions that are close to our own.
Their findings suggest that these traits have been selectively bred by humans for the past 33,000 years, since our ancestors first started breeding wolves.
“During the domestication process, humans may have bred dogs based on facial expressions similar to their own, and over time, canine muscles may have evolved to become ‘faster’, further increasing communication between dogs and humans. well,” said Professor Anne Burrows, the study’s senior author.
Previous studies have suggested that changes in several genes may have played a role in dog domestication.
Until now, however, scientists have not been able to pinpoint exactly which genetic mutations these could be.
“During domestication, dogs experienced strong selection for temperament, behavior and cognitive ability,” the team wrote in their study, published in Scientific Reports†
“However, the genetic basis of these abilities is not well understood.”
A group of 624 domestic dogs was split into two groups – the Ancient group, consisting of breeds that are genetically closer to wolves, such as the Akita and Siberian Husky, and the General group, which included all other breeds – before being given two tasks. accomplished.
In the first task, dogs had to decide which bowl of food was hidden in, based on clues from the experiments such as pointing, staring and tapping.
This tested the dog’s understanding of human gestures and communication.
The results showed that there was no significant difference in performance between the Ancient and General varieties.
In the second task, the dog was given a problem-solving test, where they tried to open a container to access food.
Their analysis found that two mutations in MC2R were associated with both correctly interpreting gestures in the first task and staring more often at researchers in the second task (stock image)
During this task, the researchers noted how often and for how long the dog looked at the researchers, which reflects their social attachment to people.
The results showed that dogs in the Ancient group looked at the researchers less often than dogs in the General group, suggesting that they were less attached to people.
To see if genetic mutations could help explain the results, the researchers next looked at differences in genes linked to cognitive abilities in the dogs.
These included the genes for the ‘love hormone’ oxytocin (OT), and genes for the melanocortin 2 receptor (MC2R), which is involved in the production of the stress hormone cortisol.
Their analysis revealed that two mutations in MC2R were associated with both correctly interpreting gestures in the first task and staring at researchers more often in the second task.
“The MC2R gene was most effective for dogs’ ability in two-way choice tests and problem-solving tasks, indicating that this gene can be mutated in the early domestication process of dogs,” the researchers concluded.
OXYTOCIN: THE ‘LOVE’ OR ‘CUG HORMONE’ RESPONSIBLE FOR TRUST
Oxytocin, known as the ‘love hormone’, inspires confidence and generosity.
The chemical is released naturally from the brain into the blood of humans and other mammals during social and sexual behavior.
It is produced by women during labor to help them bond with their babies and stimulate breast milk production.
The chemical is also released during sex, earning it the nickname “the cuddle hormone.”
Other loving touches, from cuddling a teddy bear to petting your dog, also trigger the release of the hormone.