Rare Human Syndrome May Explain Dog’s Friendliness According to a New Research
Dogs Are Insanely Friendly Thanks to Their Genes
Dogs are heart warmingly friendly. They lick us, jump on us and we love them for it, but the reason behind why these animals are so hypersocially engaging has never been fully understood.
Now, a new study examining the genetic makeup and behavioural traits of dogs and wolves has found that humanity's best friend shares a chromosomal overlap with a specific human disorder
The syndrome is called Williams-Beuren syndrome – and the similarity could help to explain dogs' unshakeable sociability.
Williams-Beuren syndrome occurs when people are missing of a chunk of DNA containing about 27 genes. The syndrome affects about one in 10,000 people, and it is associated with a suite of mental and physical traits, including bubbly, extroverted personalities, a broad forehead, full cheeks, heart defects, intellectual disability and an affinity for music.
The researchers wanted to know how closely the two might be linked at a genetic level
Animal scientist Monique Udell from Oregon State University and fellow researcher Bridgett vonHoldt, an evolutionary biologist from Princeton University, observed the parallels between Williams-Beuren syndrome's hypersociability and the behavior of dogs, and wanted to know how closely the two might be linked at a genetic level.
A series of behavior based experiments involving dogs and wolves
To find out if these variants might actually be responsible for hypersocial behaviour in dogs, the researchers took 18 domesticated dogs and 10 human-socialised wolves and ran them through a series of behaviour-based experiments involving both familiar and unfamiliar people to gauge their individual sociability. Not surprisingly, the dogs proved to be more sociable with humans than the wolves taking part in the exercises.
The researchers don't fully understand what's going on here and acknowledge that the sample of animals used in the study was small But nonetheless, it's a pretty amazing step forward that tells us more about how some of the genetic underpinnings of social behaviour may operate, in both dogs and people – and which could help explain how dogs separated from wolves during evolution.
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