Dogs evolved 'puppy eyes' to communicate with humans after their domestication

tech2 News Staff

Puppy eyes are real. We all know they are. Dogs have a way of looking through your soul if they want to, and have the eye muscles to prove it. These specially-developed muscles in their faces have changed over the course of canine evolution so they could better communicate with humans. Can we get the biggest, well-deserved awwwwwww here?

The domestication of wolfs into dogs took place over a period of 33,000 years. During this time, their behaviour and their anatomy underwent a series of changes that made them suitable companions to humans at the time. These changes have enabled them to read and understand human expressions well enough to become 'Man's best friend'. (We use the word 'man' very loosely here)

Doggums. Image credit: Pixabay

Doggums. Image credit: Pixabay

Eye contact is very important between a dog and its owner. Dogs use eye contact to communicate their feelings. That is why your dog, sometimes creepily, stares at you when they poop. It's because they are vulnerable at that moment and are looking at you to keep them safe. (Our heart just melted and turned into a puddle right there, yes.)

Study leader Juliane Kaminski, a psychologist at the University of Portsmouth, UK and her colleagues dissected and analysing facial muscles of six dogs €" including a mongrel, a Labrador retriever, a bloodhound, a Siberian husky, a Chihuahua, and a German shepherd €" as well as four wild grey wolves (ewww, gross, yes.) However, all the animals in the study had died naturally and their bodies donated for science.

The research found that the inner eyebrow muscle €" called the levator anguli oculi medialis (mercifully known as LAOM) €" is present in dogs' faces but not in wolves. These muscles allow dogs to make expressions that are similar to babies. It's probably no surprise then that it elicits the same response from human beings €" of care, love and the instinct to nurture them.

Their findings are published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences titled '>Evolution of facial muscle anatomy in dogs'.

Kaminski in an interview with BBC said, "When dogs make the movement, it seems to elicit a strong desire in humans to look after them." To conclude, human beings are suckers for innocent-looking animals and dogs know just how to play with our heartstrings, those sneaky little animals.

You won't see me complaining.

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