Wolves love people like dogs

A research group from Stockholm University showed in a test that wolves form social bonds with people and are attached to them like dogs.

dr. Christina Hansen Wheat and one of the wolves involved in the study, Lemmy. Source: Peter Kaut / Stockholm University

Wolves (Canis lupus) can bond with people like dogs (Canis knows each other), showing affection and intimacy despite the wild nature. This is valuable information to better understand the process of dog domestication – which took place between 40,000 and 15,000 years ago – and the characteristics of these fascinating animals. Il risultato della ricerca, infatti, contraddice l’afferazione secondo cui l’attaccamento agli uomini sarebbe emerso solo dopo l’addomesticamento, mentre risulta evident che questa capacità di creare una relazione sociale è innata anche nei lupi (non quelli da cunei lupi iro) .

A Swedish research team made up of scientists from the Department of Zoology at Stockholm University has proven that the wolf can be attached to people like a dog. The researchers, coordinated by Dr. Christina Hansen Wheat, professor of ethology at the University of Sweden, reached their conclusions after conducting a particular behavioral study called the “Strange Situation Test”. In total, these are 10 European gray wolves and 12 Alaskan husky dogs. The test was originally designed to assess how children are attached to so-called caregivers. All the specimens concerned were raised from the age of 10 days to 23 weeks by specialized staff, before being tested in the same way.

In very simple terms, dogs and wolves are released into rooms with strangers and with caregivers, in various combinations (eg alone, together, in turns). substitute, etc.) . The scientists analyzed the behavior of the animals during the test and observed that the wolves discriminated familiar people from strangers, such as dogs, sought contact with human friends, followed them and tried to to play with them. Wolves adopt more distressing behaviors around strangers, such as tail wagging, crouching, and nervous pacing. “It is very clear that wolves, like dogs, prefer the familiar to the unfamiliar. But perhaps what is more interesting is that while the dogs are less impressed with the test, the wolves,” said Professor Hansen Wheat in a press release. Familiar people become real “social pillows” for the wolves when they enter the room where the stranger is already, because they have the ability to calm down the stress signals of the animals.

So it is likely that this capacity to attach wolves to humans is an innate phenotype and that it favored domestication thousands of years ago, and therefore was not seen during the domestication process. With previous studies that have made important contributions to this question, I think it is now appropriate to support the idea that if there is a change in human behavior targeted by wolves, this behavior will be a potential target for the former. selective pressures created during dog domestication,” said Professor Hansen Wheat. Details of the research “Human-Directed Attachment Behavior in Wolves Suggests Permanent Ancestral Variation in Human-Dog Attachment Bonds” were published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Ecology and Evolution.

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