“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,” she add. “This would give dogs, that move their eyebrows more, a selection advantage over others and reinforce the ‘puppy dog eyes’ trait for future generations.”
Co-author Anne Burrows, an anatomist from Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, says that this anatomical difference between the wolves and dogs occurred relatively quickly. “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.”
With which co-author Rui Diogo agreed: “I must admit that I was surprised to see the results myself because the gross anatomy of muscles is normally very slow to change in evolution, and this happened very fast indeed, in just some dozens of thousands of years.”
In concluding that “domestication transformed the facial muscle anatomy of dogs specifically for facial communication with humans” in a mere 33,000 years, the study leaves much for the dog lovers amongst us to wonder. What evolutionary changes might this unique partnership bring about in another 33,000 years? And can we please have talking dogs someday?
The whole study (and video clips of wolves versus dogs!) can be seen at the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
Source: Tree Hugger