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Human self-domestication posits that among the driving forces of human evolution, humans selected their companions depending on who exhibited more pro-social behavior. Researchers from a team of the UB led by Cedric Boeckx, ICREA professor at the Department of Catalan Philology and General Linguistics and member of the Institute of Complex Systems of the University of Barcelona (UBICS), report new genetic evidence for this evolutionary process.
The study, published in PLOS ONE, compared the genomes of modern humans to those of several domesticated species and their wild animal types in order to find overlapping genes associated with domestication traits, such as docility or a gracile physiognomy. The results showed a statistically significant number of genes associated with domestication, which overlapped between domestic animals and modern humans, but not with their wild equals, like Neanderthals.
Researchers - Results - Self-domestication - Hypothesis - Help
According to the researchers, these results reinforce the human self-domestication hypothesis and "help to shed light on one aspect that makes us human, our social instinct."
Self-domestication is proposed in species that display anatomical and behavioural features typical of the differences between domestic animals in comparison to their wild types. However, unlike the transition of wolves to dogs, self-domestication occurs without one species domesticating another. Several studies proposed the hypothesis, stating that humans (and other species such as bonobos) domesticated themselves. The aim of this study was to find biological evidence of this process by looking at the genomes of our extinct relatives, such as Neanderthals or Denisovans. This evidence was previously unavailable to biologists.
Reason - Scientists - Humans - Humans - Species
"One reason that scientists claim that humans are self-domesticated is our behavior: Modern humans are docile and tolerant, like domesticated species. Our cooperative abilities and pro-social behaviour are key features of modern cognition," says Cedric Boeckx. "The second reason is that modern humans, when compared to Neanderthals, present a more gracile phenotype that resembles that...
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