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Chapter 3: A Sniff of Love
How social hormones influence our relationships and longevity

How humans self-domesticated

"On one youtube video, Boris and Sophie, two rather cute pets, show off their tricks: they sit and lay down when prompted, then shake paws and spin in exchange for treats. If it wasn’t for their magnificent, bushy tails and unusually high-pitched yelps, the animals could have been mistaken for dogs. In reality, Boris and Sophie are foxes — domesticated silver foxes from Siberia, to be precise.
    In 1959 a Russian geneticist named Dmitry Belyaev set up to test a new research idea: he started breeding wild silver foxes, selecting the animals for their lack of aggression or fear towards humans. Yet after a few years — or about eight to ten fox generations — a weird thing happened: some of the foxes started to resemble dogs in both their behaviour and looks....." [excerpt from Growing Young]

Chimps (left) vs bonobos (right) -- they make look similar, but they behave very differently (tip: while you might wander into a cage full of bonobos and leave unscathed, venturing into chimp territory is far more dangerous)


Domesticated animals have white forehead patches and white tips of tails -- here Roger, my cocker spaniel. Domestication is also the reason why humans have pink lips, and so do bonobos.



Good animal moms have oxytocin-loaded kids.

For further reading:


  • Can oxytocin sprays make your partner more faithful?

  • What are the links between social hormones and living to 100?

  • Can some gene polymorphisms make you more prone to thinking about divorce?

  • Why do humans have pink lips (and what does it say about our characters)?

  • Can looking into your dog's eyes boost your health?

  • Why are hugs good for longevity?

  • Answers to these questions (and much more!) in the book

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