We may have helped give our canine pals 'puppy dog eyes'

18 Juin, 2019, 15:25 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Puppy dog eyes

Such a stark diversion in what in evolutionary terms is a short period of time has led the researchers to believe that humans naturally favour canines able to look at them with big "puppy dog" eyes, giving them a selection advantage.

"The movement makes the eyes appear bigger, hence more infant-like and potentially more appealing to humans", researchers said.

"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", Duquesne University Professor Anne Burrows, a co-author of the paper, said in the statement.

Anatomist and report co-author, Professor Anne Burrows of Duquesne University in the USA, says that in evolutionary terms the changes to dogs' facial muscles was "remarkably fast" and could be "directly linked to dogs' enhanced social interaction with humans".

Previous research has shown that dogs are more likely to use this "puppy eyes" expression when a human is looking at them - suggesting that it is a deliberate behaviour and intended for human consumption.

The researchers conducted their facial anatomy comparison on four wolves and six dogs.

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Kaminski in earlier research found dogs moved their eyebrows more when humans were looking at them than when they were not looking at them.

"We also studied dogs' and wolves' behaviour and, when exposed to a human for two minutes, dogs raised their inner eyebrows more and at higher intensities than wolves".

Project leader Dr Juliane Kaminski, of the University of Portsmouth, said: "The evidence is compelling that dogs developed a muscle to raise the inner eyebrow after they were domesticated from wolves".

She said the eyebrow movement also might give people "the illusion of human-like communication".

The scientists believe that these muscles were developed nearly entirely because it gave them an advantage with humans.

"They are very powerful animals in how they capture our hearts", Bridget Waller, the director of the Centre for Comparative and Evolutionary Psychology at the University of Portsmouth, told The Guardian.

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