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Science & Technology

Puppy dog eyes are an evolutionary trait

By T.K. Randall
June 18, 2019 · Comment icon 11 comments

There is a reason that dogs are so good at looking cute. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 Thomas Vaclavek
Scientists have discovered that dogs have evolved eye muscles to help make them more appealing to humans.
Take one look at a dog's 'puppy eyes' and the power that our canine companions have over us becomes readily apparent, but what is it about a dogs' eyes that makes them so endearing?

Previous studies have shown that dogs are capable of using their eyes to produce an infant-like expression, thus prompting the same nurturing feelings we get when we see a cute baby.

According to new research however, this is definitely not by accident - dogs have actually evolved the ability to deliberately manipulate the emotions of humans thanks to special facial muscles that can control their expressions.
"[This movement enables a dog's eyes to] appear larger, more infant-like and also resembles a movement humans produce when they are sad," said study co-author Dr Juliane Kaminski.

This in turn would have made our ancestors more likely to protect and breed such dogs.

"[This shows] how important faces can be in capturing our attention, and how powerful facial expression can be in social interaction," said co-author Professor Bridget Waller.

Source: BBC News | Comments (11)

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #2 Posted by sci-nerd 4 years ago
Pets, that we feel we have a connection with, is much more likely to be used for breeding. So it's the human preference that is the cause for the feature, not evolution. Evolution is all about adapting to the ever changing environment, in order to survive, via mutation - not preference.
Comment icon #3 Posted by Seti42 4 years ago
Domesticated dogs and cats also vocalize a lot more than their wild counterparts. When a previously wild animal adapts to live with (or is adapted by) humans, they seem to become more like us. It's a good trade, really. Domesticated animals, despite all the inbreeding, tend to live longer and healthier lives and are never going to face extinction. Unless, of course, humans go extinct... I think the "master/pet" relationship is more symbiotic than servile.  
Comment icon #4 Posted by AllPossible 4 years ago
I flash my puppy dog eyes when I get pulled over then I end up in handcuffs. 
Comment icon #5 Posted by Imaginarynumber1 4 years ago
Evolution occurs not just through through mutation, but also natural selection, genetic drift, and gene flow. 
Comment icon #6 Posted by SmartAZ 4 years ago
Evolution supporters reject Lamarckism, but that is exactly what they invoke to explain their theories. And how exactly did they determine that was associated with evolution, with or without Lamarckism? Scientists are getting farther and farther away from actual science.
Comment icon #7 Posted by pallidin 4 years ago
I love puppies. So cute! So tiny, furry, snuggley and playful!
Comment icon #8 Posted by openozy 4 years ago
Pets, that we feel we have a connection with, is much more likely to be used for breeding. So it's the human preference that is the cause for the feature, not evolution. Having studied and owned 10 plus dogs at once most of my life, I can tell you its a learned act.I have hunting line dogs that have retired as house pets and they have learned this behaviour.I have a line bred pitbull/mastiff pigdog now that smiles when he meets women and wins them over,if human males did that they might do better with the ladies lol.
Comment icon #9 Posted by openozy 4 years ago
I believe animals have intelligence far beyond what humans give them credit for.All animals including insects.
Comment icon #10 Posted by TripGun 4 years ago
My dog is a mutt, lab and pit mix and has two distinct personalties. He is all lab when he is sad and all pit when he is happy, I swear he physically changes to his mood. Like that movie Split...crazy.
Comment icon #11 Posted by openozy 4 years ago
I've noticed this when you cross two widely different breeds,not so much in breeds with similar traits such as my pitbull/mastiff cross,but even in pure breeds if the parents have entirely different traits you will see both in the pups.

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