Dogs evolved 'sad puppy eyes' to appeal to humans

'Puppy dog eyes' are an evolutionary trick to manipulate humans, say scientists

'Puppy dog eyes' are an evolutionary trick to manipulate humans, say scientists

You'd give her anything, right?

Previous studies have shown how such canine expressions can appeal to humans, but this research from the United Kingdom and U.S. shows there has been an anatomical change around dogs' eyes to make it possible. They spotted two striking differences: The levator anguli oculi medialis muscle, which raises the eyebrows, was highly developed in all of the dogs but barely there in wolves.

A new study has found dogs evolved new facial muscles specifically to tug at your heartstrings over the course of thousands of years of domestication.

Researchers have found that dogs have evolved muscles around their eyes, which allow them to make expressions that particularly appeal to humans.

Scientists made the discovery by comparing the anatomy of dogs and wolves, finding that their facial muscles are similar apart from the eyebrow muscles.

"The raised inner eyebrow movement in dogs is driven by a muscle which doesn't consistently exist in their closest living relative, the wolf".

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Dogs that move their eyebrows more would thus have a "selection advantage over others and reinforce the "puppy dog eyes" trait for future generations". The team found that dogs used facial expressions far more when the human was looking at them.

The muscles in the faces of dogs and wolves are similar, except above the eyes.

Anatomist and report co-author, Professor Anne Burrows of Duquesne University in the United States, says that in evolutionary terms the changes to dogs' facial muscles was "remarkably fast" and could be "directly linked to dogs' enhanced social interaction with humans". The reason, they believe, is because of the positive effects of canine facial expressions on dogs' interactions with humans.

"The authors suggest that the inner eyebrow-raising movement triggers a nurturing response in humans because it makes the dogs' eyes appear larger, more infant-like and also resembles a movement humans produce when they are sad".

"They are very powerful animals in how they capture our hearts", Bridget Waller, the director of the Centre for Comparative and Evolutionary Psychology at the University of Portsmouth, told The Guardian.

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