John Bradshaw, author of the book entitled The Animal Among Us, writes that there is a high probability that humans' longing for the companionship of animals can be traced back tens of thousands of years ago and has taken a crucial part in human evolution. He adds that genetics might help illustrate why some people love animals and some do not. Furthermore, Bradshaw mentions studies that have found that affection for animals comes together with a concern for nature. He writes that people can be reconnected with nature through the help of pets.
This new study, published in Anthrozoös, concludes that the effects of childhood exposure to pets on pet ownership and interaction patterns in adulthood may be caused by genetics. It says that regardless of upbringing, a person will either look for the company of an animal or not, which means that not everyone has the genes that encourage pet-keeping. The study indicates that in earlier years, some individuals grow up having an instinctive close relationship with animals.
The researchers used a behavioral genetic design to estimate the degree to which genetic and environmental factors contribute to individual differences in frequency of play with pets among adult men. They examined the data gathered from the ongoing Vietnam Era Twin Study of Aging (VETSA), which is a population-based sample of 1,237 monozygotic and dizygotic twins who are 51 to 60 years old. The results suggest that genetic factors play a role in individual differences in interactions with pets.
Another study, published in Nature Communications, suggests that dogs became humans' partners in evolution. The research shows that ever since dogs separated from gray wolves, the brains and digestive systems of domestic dogs have evolved in ways in which are akin to human's brains and digestive systems.
The separation of dogs and wolves was traced back to around 32,000 years ago. Dogs were allegedly domesticated around this time. The researchers write in their article that domestication is often linked with population density increases and living conditions that are crowded. Thus, these disadvantageous environments might be the reason that pushed the rewiring of both kinds.
The researchers compared similar genes in dogs and humans to find how these co-evolved. They found that humans and dogs went through similar changes in genes that are responsible for digestion and metabolism, and those changes were caused by the extreme change in proportion of animal and plant-based foods that happened in animals and humans around the same time. In addition, researchers discovered co-evolution in brain processes, like the genes affecting the process of serotonin.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, there are at least 78 million dogs and 85.8 million cats owned in the United States. There are more dog owners than cat owners, but the number of cats owned are higher because cat owners tend to adopt two or more cats in their homes. (Related: Captive zoo animals plot ways to escape and find freedom, says new book.)
Read more news about pets at PetHealth.news.