Do ‘Puppy Eyes’ Grab At Your Heartstrings? Scientists Say Evolution Is Why

kiera.chan/CC BY-ND 2.0/Flickr


Unlike its counterpart in the wild, man's best friend tends to use facial expressions that humans find irresistible.

Dogs may have evolved to produce facial expressions that are emotionally compelling to their human companions, according to The New York Times.

Dogs raise their inner eyebrows more frequently and more intensely than wolves, a facial expression that encourages many humans to give in to their canine friends' requests, according to the National Academy of Sciences

Dogs, but not wolves, have specialized muscles to produce what scientists have termed “AU101: inner eyebrow raise,” suggesting humans may have selectively bred dogs with this ability.

Some animals that evolved alongside humans possess similar muscles, including horses. Cats, which rarely move their faces, can’t perform the motion but are still able to communicate complex states of mind to their human owners.

“I think the study is compelling. Another piece of the puzzle of what connects dogs to people,” said Clive Wynne, head of the University of Arizona’s Canine Science Collaboratory. The experiments must be expanded to a greater variety of breeds in order to learn more about the differences between dogs and wolves, added Wynne, who did not participate in the study.

The project did not study whether the dogs’ environments had an effect on this behavior. It also failed to determine what state of mind the canines attempted to communicate through the expression.

Read the rest of the story here.


Science, Futurology, and Analysis