A research team from the University of Stockholm has shown in a test that wolves create social bonds with humans and become attached just like dogs.
Dr. Christina Hansen Wheat and one of the wolves involved in the study, Lemmy. Credit: Peter Kaut / Stockholm University
According to a new study i wolves (Canis lupus) can bond with human beings come i dogs (A familiar dog), demonstrating affection e attachment despite the wild nature. This is invaluable information to better understand both the process domestication of the dog – which took place between 40 thousand and 15 thousand years ago – that the characteristics of these fascinating animals. The result of the research, in fact, contradicts the assertion that attachment to men emerged only after domestication, while it is evident that this ability to create a social relationship it is also innate in wolves (not those from which the dog is derived).
A Swedish research team made up of scientists from Stockholm University’s Department of Zoology proved that the wolf can become as attached to humans as a dog. The researchers, coordinated by Dr. Christina Hansen Wheat, professor of Ethology at the Swedish university, they came to their conclusions after conducting a peculiar behavioral study called “Strange Situation Test“. In all they involved 10 European gray wolves e 12 husky dogs native to Alaska. The test was originally designed to assess the degree of attachment of children to the so-called caregiver. All the specimens involved were bred by theage from 10 days to 23 weeks by specialized personnel, before being subjected to the examination in the same manner.
In very simple words, both dogs and wolves were released into rooms with strangers and with people who took care of them, in different combinations (e.g. alone, together, taking turns etc etc). The scientists analyzed the behavior of the animals during the test and observed that wolves discriminated against familiar people from strangers just like dogs did, seeking contact with human friends, following them and trying to play with them. With strangers the wolves have assumed attitudes of stress more pronounced, such as bending the tail, squatting and nervously walking. “It was very clear that wolves, like dogs, preferred the familiar person to the stranger. But what was perhaps even more interesting is that while the dogs weren’t particularly impressed by the test, the wolves were “, he stated in a press release Professor Hansen Wheat. Familiar people became real “social bearings”For wolves when they entered the room where the stranger was already present, since they had the ability to sensibly calamate the animals’ stress signals.
It is therefore probable that this capacity for attachment to man by wolves is a innate phenotype and that it favored domestication thousands of years ago, and therefore did not arise during the domestication process. “Along with previous studies that have made important contributions to this question, I think it is now appropriate to support the idea that if there is variation in human-directed attachment behavior in wolves, this behavior may have been a potential target for the first. selective pressures exerted during dog domestication, ”said Professor Hansen Wheat.
It should be noted that the wolves involved in this study are animals raised in captivity immediately after birth, not adult specimens encountered in the wild. The wolf is in fact distrustful of the human being and it is good that he remains so, for his salvation. It is an apical predator that plays a fundamental role in the ecological balance and that has been brought to the brink of extinction precisely because of ignorance and human wickedness. The fact that it has the ability to become attached to man does not mean that it should be considered as a “pet”, absolutely. The details of the research “Human-directed attachment behavior in wolves suggests standing ancestral variation for human–dog attachment bonds”Were published in the specialized scientific journal Ecology and Evolution.