Happy Humans, Happy Dogs

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When dogs wag their tails, humans think they are happy.

However, a new study shows that tail-wagging likely evolved because of human happiness, the Washington Post reported.

Watching YouTube videos of wolves, animal researcher Taylor Hersh noticed they hardly wagged their tails. That was odd considering that dogs evolved from wolves that were domesticated 35,000 years ago.

Researchers have previously found that through the process of domestication, many traits in dogs have evolved, such as their fur, eyes, body size, and their irresistible “puppy-dog eyes.”

Meanwhile, previous research has already established that humans enjoy anything that’s rhythmic, be it music or tail-wagging. By wagging their tails, dogs trigger brain activity in humans that produces feelings of joy.

As a result, researchers believe ancient humans selected for that trait when welcoming dog ancestors into their lives and breeding the animals, and unconsciously directed them to evolve.

A similar pattern may have occurred in domesticated foxes, according to an American Scientist article.

Besides the evolution of tail-wagging, the research can also shed light on what humans preferred tens of thousands of years ago, researchers say.

“It is a bit like finding prehistorical cave paintings from Homo sapiens or Neanderthals, which indirectly tell us that back then our ancestors enjoyed art or had symbolic reasoning,” Andrea Ravignani, co-author of the study, told the Washington Post.

“In our case, what we know about how modern dogs wag their tails tells us that perhaps our ancestors 35,000 years ago already perceived the rhythmicity.”

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