Humans Behind Evolution of Dog Bark

We likely selected for the trait: study
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 23, 2011 5:24 PM CDT
Humans Behind Evolution of Dog Bark
Evolution at work?   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Next time your neighbor’s dog starts yapping, don’t blame the pup—blame humanity. We may be the ones who selected for barking over the course of the domestic dog’s evolution, whether directly or indirectly, a scientist says. He investigated the simple observation that while domestic dogs love to bark, wild ones hardly ever do it. The difference between wild and domestic dogs, of course, is that we’ve interfered in the evolution of the domestic ones for 50,000 years.

If his hypothesis were correct, figured Hungary's Csaba Molnar, then barks must hold information about what the dog is experiencing—and people should be able to tell what the barks mean. Molnar recorded the canine sounds and, using a computer program, discovered that certain types of barks—alarm barks, for example—did sound remarkably similar between individual dogs. What’s more, people were consistently able to tell what the barks meant. So could we synthesize dog barks to communicate? That “would be awesome,” Molnar tells Wired. (Read more dogs stories.)

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