How did wolves evolve into man’s best friend?

Dogs (Canis familiaris) were the first animal species to become domesticated, believed to have originated from human-friendly populations of grey wolves (Canis lupus) living on the outskirts of hunter-gather camps over 10,000 years ago. But how did these wild animals evolve into man’s best friend?

A group of scientists from Japan may have the answer in the form of a gene variant that lowers canine stress levels, making dogs more relaxed in the company of humans (Tonoike et al 2022). The gene is named MC2R (melanocortin 2 receptor) and produces cortisol, a stress hormone, in wolves. However, modern dogs have a mutated version of this gene that correlates with reduced anxiety and increased social behaviours towards humans. Read more here:

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