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Dogs and people, a 40,000-year love story

Dogs and people, a 40,000-year love story

In London this September, Juliane Kaminski will be arguing that dogs have spent so long living alongside humans that they have evolved to think just like us.

Man’s best friend is also our oldest friend – DNA suggests that dogs split from wolves 40,000 years ago, and this may have happened multiple times. But it’s only recently that researchers have begun to investigate dogs as a man-made species, uncovering what makes our relationship with them so special.

Juliane Kaminski, of the University of Portsmouth, UK, will be arguing at New Scientist Live this September that dogs have spent so long living alongside people that they have evolved to think just like us.

The relationship between our species is so close that dogs can see, hear and even smell our emotions, and then adopt them as their own. They are good judges of character, too, preferring people who help others over those who don’t cooperate. And they have been discovered to resort to deception to get treats from unreliable humans.

The dog brain processes language in the same way as ours, and dogs can tell when we’re using positive words and encouraging intonation to praise them. Dogs are often better than our closest primate relatives at understanding human gestures, and they know exactly when to make puppy eyes at people.

Kaminski will be talking all about our special relationship with dogs on 21 September at New Scientist Live at ExCeL London.

New Scientist Live is our award-winning festival of ideas and discoveries. The four-day event will feature more than 110 speakers giving thought-provoking talks on everything from the secrets of the red squirrel genome to the life and death of the Natural History Museum’s blue whale.

Dogs and people, a 40,000-year love story

[New Scientist]

 

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