Can’t resist your dog’s cute expression when he asks for a treat? It’s not your fault. According to research published by the University of Pittsburgh in the United States, it seems that dogs’ facial expressions have completely evolved so that they can better communicate with humans.
“Dogs are the only mammals that exchange glances with humans, something we don’t see in other pets like horses or cats,” says Ann Burroughs, a professor in the university’s Department of Physical Therapy and lead author of the research.
“Our preliminary findings provide a deeper understanding of the role that facial expressions play in interactions and communication between dogs and humans,” he adds.
studying, Published in the scientific journal procedures subordinate National Academy SciencesAbout Dogs’ face transformations with the process of their domestication over hundreds of years.
Scientists compared dogs and wolves. While the exact timing is unclear, researchers estimate that the two species diverged genetically about 33,000 years ago, when humans began selectively breeding wolves.
How was it searched?
The focus was on the anatomy of the small muscles used to form facial expressions, which are called mimic muscles.
In humans, these muscles are dominated by myosin fibers that contract quickly but also tire quickly, which explains why we are able to create facial expressions instantly, but not maintain them for long.
The researchers compared myosin fibers in facial muscle samples from domesticated wolves and dogs. The results showed that, like humans, dogs and wolves have facial muscles that are dominated by fast-twitch fibers. But wolves have a higher percentage of slow-twitch fibers than dogs.
“These differences suggest that having faster muscle fibers contributes to a dog’s ability to communicate effectively with people,” Burroughs said.
“Over the course of the domestication process, humans may have bred dogs selectively based on facial expressions similar to theirs, and over time the dogs’ muscles may have evolved to become ‘faster,’ which benefits communication even more.”
Detecting abandoned dog eyes
In previous research, the team found that dogs have additional mimic muscles, absent in wolves, that contribute to the expression of their “pup appearance.”
The scientists say more research is needed to confirm their new findings with ways to distinguish between additional types of myosin fibers. This could shed light on the anatomical differences between dogs and wolves.
*With information from Phys.org and Science Focus
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