According to an eye-raising study, our domestic dogs have genetically engineered a facial muscle, one that they use to manipulate us.
As it turns out, we’re responsible for canine pal’s expressive facing. Over time, it seems, dogs have developed a facial muscle that wolves do not possess. Wolves, of course, were the foredogfathers of today’s domesticated pooch.
The muscle in question is one that enables the famous puppy dog eyes. Per The New Scientist, who broke the news, states that “the muscle allows dogs to lift up their inner “eyebrow”, which makes their eye look larger. This makes them look more like childlike and also rather sad – the puppy dog eyes look.”
Which ostensibly means that they’ve learned this from the cooing of our ancestors.
Back in 2013, Juliane Kaminski (of the University of Portsmouth) videotaped dogs interacting with people at a shelter to see what made them more likely to be adopted. Kaminski found that “the only thing that seemed to have an effect is this eyebrow movement,” concluding that the dogs who furrowed their brows went home sooner.
“It was a surprising result,” says Kaminski, who studies dog-human communication. “That got us really interested.”
On that note, wolves cannot raise their eyebrows, the muscle in their face does not exist. In the wolves – which cannot raise their eyebrows as much – this muscle did not exist. “It is really different in structure,” she says. “It’s not just something that is used more.”
While New Scientist believes that movement appears to be under voluntary control, they also point a lack of evidence that dogs are intentionally using it to manipulate us.
Which now I don’t believe.