“While it is not yet clear whether levels of cortisol, a marker of stress, are actually lower in dogs than in wolves, the presence of two mutations in the same gene, one of which is associated with changes in intracellular cortisol production, may tell us how dogs evolved this ability. adapt to human society,” says Nagasawa. Now she and her colleagues want to find out if cortisol levels really differ between the two dog breed groups.
Can the genetic data of modern dogs be passed on to their prehistoric ancestors?
A study published in Scientific Reports provides exciting new evidence that the exceptional ability of dogs to cooperate and communicate with us is the result of natural selection towards wolves that approach humans and end up showing friendly behavior,” says an evolutionary anthropologist from the University Duke Brian Hare. who did not participate in the study.
Maria Lahtinen, a visiting researcher at the Finnish Museum of Natural History, who was also not involved in the new study, doubts that the new findings necessarily apply to dog ancestors. “The problem with this work is that modern dogs were studied to learn about the past,” says Lahtinen. “I would not use the results of the study for this, but would take them as an indicator of how modern dogs behave.”
To get around this problem, Hare suggests expanding future research to populations of other ancient dog breeds. If the mutations identified in the new study were indeed instrumental in how dogs communicate differently with humans, Hare says, “then dingoes and New Guinea dingoes should have the same relationship between understanding human gestures and those who understand them.” . genes.”