Tuesday, March 06, 2007


Dogs May Offer Insights into Human Evolution

Evolutionary psychologist Brian Hare of the Max Planck Institute in Germany says that his research shows dogs are better than chimps at drawing inferences about others' mental states.

Hare believes the ability of domesticated dogs to solve social problems might have emerged once the brain systems mediating fear were altered. Chimps aren't as good at these tasks, he thinks, because they fear dominant individuals and want to dominate subordinates (sounds like the Republican Party).

The same thing that happened in dogs may have occurred in human evolution.

All this may offer an insight into human evolution.

RSR has two dogs: Casey, an extremely overweight older Lab, and Jake, a hyper-energetic young Golden. Both are exceptionally good at drawing inferences about when it's time to eat and when they might persuade me to take them for a walk. Both are convinced that this blog takes way too much of my attention away from these important activities.

Both have an uncanny knack for recognizing strangers who are likely to have treats in their possession. Neither required any training at all to know when it's time for a nap.

Both will come, sit, or stay when they see a dog biscuit in my hand, otherwise...


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