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Scientists reveal genes that make dogs daft but lovable

Scientists reveal genes that make dogs daft but lovable

The research suggests that these genes are responsible for their very particular personalities which include the need for human companionship.

Researchers from more than one discipline collaborated on this research question at the Princeton University. These chromosome is reported to be associated with hyperfriendliness in the dogs.

DNA tests found a link between certain genetic changes and dog behaviour, such as paying attention to strangers. Genetic insertions are termed as transposons. The same genes mentioned above are also associated with Williams-Beuren syndrome, a developmental disorder in humans. In the complicated case of how genes and a dog's environment might make it more or less friendly, today's findings aren't a smoking gun.

In contrast, in humans, it is the deletion of genes from the counterpart of this region on the human genome, rather than insertions, that causes Williams-Beuren syndrome, a congenital disorder characterized by hyper-social traits such as exceptional gregariousness. In this condition the person is notably hypersocial and excessively extrovert and outgoing.

These genetic changes linked to friendliness in dogs shows how their behavior might have evolved from that of wild wolves, which are known to keep to themselves and rarely interact with people at will. This was what led the researchers to check in on the genomic traits and patterns that could connect the two behaviors she explained.

In an earlier study, vonHoldt identified a gene that's mutated more often in dogs than wolves - possibly because of domestication.

Eventually wolf descendants became friendlier and friendlier, which likely paved the way for dog domestication.

VonHoldt focused on this stretch of DNA because she previously had found that this region, which is on dog chromosome 6, seemed to have been important in canine evolution.

In the study, the researchers evaluated human-directed sociability of 18 domesticated dogs and 10 captive human-socialized gray wolves using sociability and problem-solving tasks. The most established theory is that dogs were selected from packs of wolves from their cognitive abilities. These included a trial in which the canines were required to open a puzzle box that contained a treat, both alone and in the presence of a human stranger. There was the animal and the human in the room. These friendly behaviors and seeking of assistance was noted and scored and quantified for assessment. "It was once thought that during domestication dogs had evolved an advanced form of social cognition that wolves lacked".

"It was the remarkable similarity between the behavioral presentation of Williams-Beuren syndrome and the friendliness of domesticated dogs that suggested to us that there may be similarities in the genetic architecture of the two phenotypes", said Bridgett vonHoldt, an assistant professor in ecology and evolutionary biology at Princeton and the study's lead co-author.

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