Why is the look of a puppy irresistible to us?

PARIS, April 6 (Benin News) –

A new study reveals key anatomical features that may explain why dog ​​faces are so attractive and puppy eyes are irresistible to their owners. The findings suggest that humans have contributed to the ability of dogs to form facial expressions over millennia of selective breeding.

What distinguishes dogs from other mammals is their mutual bond with humans, which manifests itself in a mutual gaze that we do not see between humans and other domesticated mammals such as horses or cats,” explains Ann Burroughs, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Physical Therapy, School of Medical Sciences. Rangos of Duken University in the USA, lead author of the study. Our preliminary results provide insight into the role of facial expressions in dog-human interaction and communication.

A study presented at the American Association of Anatomists’ annual meeting at the Experimental Biology (EB) 2022 Congress in Philadelphia suggests that differences in facial musculature between wolves and dogs suggest that facial expression played a role in breeding and domestication. dogs.

Dogs and wolves are closely related. While the exact date is unclear, scientists believe the two species diverged genetically around 33,000 years ago when humans began selectively breeding wolves, the first species to be domesticated.

The new study looks at the anatomy of small muscles used to form facial expressions, called facial muscles. In humans, these muscles are dominated by “fast twitch” myosin fibers, which contract quickly but tire just as quickly, so we can form facial expressions quickly but not maintain them for long. Muscle cells with slower fibers are more efficient at long, controlled movements and don’t tire as quickly.

For this study, the scientists compared myosin fibers in facial muscle samples from wolves and domestic dogs. The results showed that, like humans, dogs and wolves have facial muscles dominated by fast twitch fibers, but wolves have a higher percentage of slow twitch fibers compared to dogs.

“These differences suggest that having faster muscle fibers contributes to a dog’s ability to communicate effectively with humans,” says Burroughs. Throughout the process of domestication, man could select dogs based on facial expressions similar to his own, and over time, dogs’ muscles could develop to become “faster”, which facilitated communication between dogs and humans.

Having more fast twitch fibers allows for greater facial mobility and faster muscle movements, allowing for small movements such as raising the eyebrows and the short, powerful muscle contractions that occur during barking. Slow twitch fibers, on the other hand, are important for sustained muscular movements, such as those performed by wolves during howls.

In a previous study, the team found that dogs have an additional muscle of facial expression, absent in wolves, that contributes to “puppy-eye” expressions.

The scientists note that further research is needed to confirm their new findings with appropriate antibody patches to distinguish between other types of myosin fibers, which could shed new light on the anatomical differences between dogs and wolves.

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