Have you ever wondered what makes dogs so lovable, and why they get so attached to us? A recent study claims sociability is written in their genes, and was the most important factor which contributed to the strong relationship between them and people.
What is the difference between dogs and wolves?
In the study, researchers compared dogs with their closest relatives, wolves. They looked at the social tendencies shown by both species and discovered they were related to the variation of the genes GTF2IRD1 and GTF2I. The same genes are also present in humans. There is a case when they might be deleted, causing Williams-Beuren syndrome. This syndrome is associated with an unusually social behavior.
Older theories have also tried to explain why there is a behavioral difference between dogs and wolves. Scientists thought the former have developed a more advanced social cognition, making them more likely to act so friendly towards people. However, this might not be the case.
After looking at tamed wolves, who have been used to human presence, they discovered they showed similar or even more advanced social capabilities than their domesticated relatives. On the other hand, our furry friends tend to exaggerate gregariousness, or hypersociability.
Genes allowed pups to become our best friends
Therefore, the paper, published in the journal Science Advances, took a group of dogs and a group of grey wolves accustomed to humans and analyzed their sociability. They looked at both their behavior and their genes and DNA.
They had to undergo certain trials, where they had to solve puzzles to receive treats both in the presence of a person and alone. During the trials, dogs paid more attention to the person. The genetic analysis discovered a certain chromosomal area which is passed to all domestic dog breeds.
This is relevant for the theory on the difference in the behavior of dogs and wolves. It seems the transmission of such genes allowed the former to be so sociable and to coexist so peacefully with humans.
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