Dogs are often referred to as “man’s best friend,” and for good reason. They are loyal, affectionate, and have an uncanny ability to understand us humans in a way that no other animal can. But have you ever wondered how dogs evolved to become our faithful companions? The 60-minute segment “Survival of the Friendliest: How Dogs Evolved to be Man’s Best Friend” sheds some light on this fascinating topic.
The segment features Brian Hare, an evolutionary anthropologist and founder of Dognition, a company that provides cognitive assessments for dogs. Hare believes that dogs are unique among animals because they are incredibly skilled at reading and responding to human social cues. According to Hare, dogs have evolved to be “hyper-social,” meaning that they are more interested in interacting with humans than with other dogs.
How did dogs become so social in the first place?
The segment explains that dogs are descended from wolves, which are known for their fierce independence and territoriality. However, as humans began to form settlements and engage in agriculture, they unwittingly created a new ecological niche for wolves to exploit. Instead of competing with humans for food, some wolves began to scavenge around human settlements, eating scraps and leftovers.
Over time, these “proto-dogs” became more and more adept at scavenging around humans. They learned to approach humans without fear and communicate using subtle gestures and vocalizations. Humans, in turn, began to rely on these dogs for help with hunting, herding, and even as early warning systems.
But it wasn’t just a matter of dogs learning to tolerate humans. The segment argues that there was also a genetic component to this evolution. The friendliest wolves were most likely to thrive in the new ecological niche created by humans. Over time, these wolves evolved into dogs, with traits like floppy ears, wagging tails, and reduced aggression toward humans.
The segment also features interviews with dog owners and trainers, who share their own experiences of how dogs seem to have an innate ability to understand and respond to human emotions. Hare explains that dogs are capable of “cognitive empathy,” meaning that they can understand and respond to the emotional states of other beings. This is why dogs seem to be able to comfort us when we’re sad or anxious, and why they often seem to “know” what we’re thinking or feeling.
Why Anderson Cooper’s dog Lily is so friendly?
If you have ever wondered why Anderson Cooper’s dog Lily is so friendly, you are not alone. In fact, Cooper himself wanted to find out the answer to this question, and he did so by taking part in a scientific experiment for 60 Minutes. The experiment involved testing Lily’s DNA (see the latest in DNA testing) and comparing it with that of wolves and other dogs. The results showed that Lily has a genetic mutation that makes her more likely to seek human contact and affection. This mutation is also found in some other dog breeds, such as golden retrievers and labradors, but not in wolves or ancient dogs. This means that Lily’s friendliness is not just a result of her upbringing or training, but also of her evolution. She is part of a group of dogs that have been selected for their social skills over thousands of years by humans who wanted companionship. Lily’s friendliness is therefore a natural gift that she shares with Cooper and anyone else who meets her. She is a living example of how dogs became man’s best friend.
In conclusion, the 60-minute segment “Survival of the Friendliest: How Dogs Evolved to be Man’s Best Friend” provides a fascinating look at the evolution of dogs and their unique relationship with humans. It highlights the importance of socialization and positive reinforcement in dog training, and suggests that our bond with dogs results from genetic and environmental factors. This segment is a must-watch for anyone who has ever loved a dog, this segment is a must-watch.
Brian Hare developed interactive games and expert analyses that give you an unprecedented perspective on how your dog sees the world. By understanding your dog’s mind, you’ll build a deeper connection with the personality behind the bright eyes that greet you every day.