Without cooperation, the social life of mankind is unthinkable. The frequency and complexity of human cooperation, if not unique, is extraordinary. To better understand the evolution of this outstanding human skill, the researchers proposed the dog ( Canis familiaris ) as a good model for human cooperation.
The wolf in the dog makes a difference
A recent study by Vetmeduni Vienna, published in the scientific report shows that the ability to cooperate with people does not lie in the dog itself, but in the "wolf in the dog" – that is, the dog and the wolf Sharing very specific behavioral characteristics. The study tested the extent to which dogs and grey wolves work with humans to solve certain tasks. The results of the study show that although animals achieve their goals in different ways, dogs and wolves work closely with humans and are equally successful.
The Wolves show more initiative
Especially at one point, two closely related animals showed distinctly different forms of behavior. In cooperation with human partners, dogs follow human behavior, while wolves lead interaction: they are more independent. Friederike Range, research director at the Konrad Lorenz Institute in Vienna, Vetmeduni, said: "A detailed analysis of the cooperative interaction reveals interesting differences between wolves and dogs. It shows that although wolves tend to initiate behavior and take the lead, dogs are more likely to wait. Wait, see what the human partners have done and follow this behavior."
Returning to the Country to Blame the Differences in Behavior
According to the results of the study, the researchers suggested that during domestication, dogs were selected for reproduction because of their higher compliance (respectful behavioral assumptions). Based on this assumption, this helps minimize conflicts with resources and ensures safe coexistence and cooperation between human leadership and follow-up.
The teamwork count of the wolf
Forming a research background is some of the basic considerations in the field of behavioral science. Since humans and dogs have been exposed to similar environmental stresses, this imaginably represents a situation of convergent evolution. Some studies have shown that dogs have a specific tendency to cooperate in the process of domestication due to reduced aggressiveness and increased tolerance. In this context, people expect to work better with wolves on dogs. However, the wolf is a highly cooperative species that works together to nurture young people, hunt down and defend their territory.
The early socialization of mankind is essential
The research team led by Friederike Range therefore assumed that the dogs did not develop any new features during domestication, but that their common ancestor – the wolf's collaborative skills – constituted the dog – the basis for human cooperative evolution (dog cooperation hypothesis). Contrary to the assumptions of other scientists, the researchers at Vetmeduni Vienna did not assume that dogs would outweigh wolves when working with humans. As Friederike Range said, "Based on the dog cooperation hypothesis, we expect that wolves will work with humans and dogs if early and intensive socialization." This study confirms this hypothesis.
For the experimental part of the study, 15 gray wolves (11 males, 4 females, age: 2 to 8 years old) and 12 mixed-breed dogs (7 males, 5 females, age: 2 to 7) were tested. At the Wolf Science Center in Ernstbrunn, Austria, animals have long been associated with people and have close ties with them. The experimental results show that dogs and wolves work successfully with humans while maintaining similar conditions with humans, although the methods are very different, which explains why dogs become better pets.
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