Tag: Proceedings of the Royal Society

Ancient North American beginnings.

And early humans also came with their dogs!

Gary, aka Nimbushopper, sent me an item that appeared on Newsmax.

It was all about the early settlers. I very much would like to share it with you.

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Study: Dogs Came to N. America With Earliest Humans

Wednesday, 24 February 2021.

A Siberian husky enjoys the snow during a training session in Huy, eastern Germany, on February 11, 2021. – Musher Kerstin Galisch is a multiple participant of national and international competitions and takes care of a pack of fifteen Siberian Husky sled dogs, that live in and around a former and rebuilt feedlot premises administration building. (Photo by Ronny Hartmann / AFP) (Photo by RONNY HARTMANN/AFP via Getty Images)

Scientists said Wednesday they had discovered the oldest remains of a domestic dog in the Americas dating back more than 10,000 years, suggesting the animals accompanied the first waves of human settlers.

Humans are thought to have migrated to North America from Siberia over what is today the Bering Strait at the end of the last Ice Age — between 30,000 and 11,000 years ago.

The history of dogs has been intertwined with man since ancient times, and studying canine DNA can provide a good timeline for human settlement.

A new study led by the University at Buffalo analysed the mitochondrial DNA of a bone fragment found in Southeast Alaska.

The team initially thought the fragment belonged to a bear.

But closer examination revealed it to be part of a femur of a dog that lived in the region around 10,150 years ago, and that shared a genetic lineage with American dogs that lived before the arrival of European breeds.

“Because dogs are a proxy for human occupation, our data help provide not only a timing but also a location for the entry of dogs and people into the Americas,” said Charlotte Lindqvist, an evolutionary biologist from the University at Buffalo and the University of South Dakota.

She said the findings, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, supports the theory that humans arrived in North America from Siberia.

“Southeast Alaska might have served as an ice-free stopping point of sorts, and now — with our dog — we think that early human migration through the region might be much more important than some previously suspected,” said Lindqvist.

Older Migrations

A carbon isotope analysis of the bone fragment showed that the ancient Southeast Alaskan dog likely had a marine diet that consisted of fish and seal and whale scraps.

Lindqvist said dogs did not arrive in North America all at once. Some arrived later from East Asia with the Thule people, while Siberian huskies were imported to Alaska during the Gold Rush in the 19th century.

There is a long-standing contention about whether the first humans entered North America through a continental corridor that formed as the ice sheets receded, or along the North Pacific coast thousands of years earlier.

Previous age estimates of dog remains were younger than the fragment found by Lindqvist and the team, suggesting that dogs arrived in the continent during the later, continental migrations.

Lindqvist said her findings supported the theory that dogs in fact arrived in North America among the first waves of humans settlers.

“We also have evidence that the coastal edge of the ice sheet started melting at least around 17,000 years ago, whereas the inland corridor was not viable until around 13,000 years ago,” she told AFP.

“And genetic evidence that a coastal route for the first Americans over 16,000 years ago seems most likely. Our study supports that our coastal dog is a descendant of dogs that participated in this initial migration.”

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I have said it before and no doubt will say it again many times in the future: The bond that dogs have with us humans and, in return, the thanks and love that we have for our dogs goes back a very, very long time indeed.

This is just another article that confirms this.

Just want to repeat the amazing news that Charlotte Lindqvist reported:

But closer examination revealed it to be part of a femur of a dog that lived in the region around 10,150 years ago, and that shared a genetic lineage with American dogs that lived before the arrival of European breeds.

I do hope you read the full article as presented here.

Thank you, Gary!

Back to puppies!

Actually, some recent very interesting research on how puppies relate to the sounds of people around them.

A recent mailing under the SmartNews banner used by The Smithsonian Magazine seemed too good not to share with all you dog lovers.

Plus, our internet connection is not good at the moment so not going to dilly dally but go straight to the article that may be seen on the Smithsonian website here.

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Why Puppies Love Baby Talk

New research shows puppies respond strongly to high-pitched chatter, but most adult dogs could care less.

istock-511313058-jpg__800x600_q85_crop_subject_location-1501569By Jason Daley
smithsonian.com
January 11, 2017

Anyone who has lived with a dog will find themselves occasionally cooing to their pup in slow-paced, high-pitched baby talk (OK, maybe most of the time). And a new study suggests that our canines respond to such dulcet tones—well, puppies do at least.

The study, published this week in the Proceedings of Royal Society Bshows that the baby-talk, also known as dog-directed speech, gets a big response from puppies. Older dogs, however, aren’t super impressed, reports Virginia Morell at Science.

The study’s researchers had 30 female volunteers look at photographs of dogs while reading standard dog-directed phrases, like “Who’s a good boy?” and “Hello cutie!” (they didn’t use real dogs to minimize the speakers going off script). The volunteers also read the doggie praise to a human. The researchers found that women used the higher-pitched, sing-song baby-talk tone when reading the passages to the photos, making their voices 21 percent higher when reading to the puppy images. With the human, they spoke in their normal voice.

That was more or less expected. But when the researchers played recordings of the women’s voices to ten puppies and ten adult dogs at a New York animal shelter, there was a stark difference. The puppies went wild when they heard the dog-directed voices. Morell reports they barked and ran toward the loudspeaker, crouching down in a pose used to start a round of horseplay. When researchers played the same phrases using the women’s normal tone of voice, the puppies weren’t nearly as enthused.

The adult dogs, however, were a different story. “They didn’t care at all,” Nicolas Mathevon, a bioacoustician at the University of Lyon in Saint-Étienne, France, and co-author of the study tells Morell. “They had a quick look at the speaker, and then ignored it.”

There’s no clear reason why the puppies reacted so strongly to the baby talk and the mature animals didn’t. It’s possible the higher-pitched tones stimulate a special response in the puppies. Mathevon tells Helen Briggs at the BBC that it may be related to a theory called the baby schema. In that hypothesis, humans evolved to find big eyes, big heads and round cheeks irresistibly cute. That helps parents bond with children, convincing them to spend the endless hours required to feed and tend to infants. Many of those cues are also found in baby animals.

But there may be more to the response.  “One of the hypotheses was that we humans use this dog-directed speech because we are sensitive to the baby cues that come from the face of a small baby [animal] as we are sensitive to the faces of our babies,” he tells Briggs. “But actually our study demonstrates that we use pet-directed speech or infant-directed speech not only because of that but maybe we use this kind of speech pattern when we want to engage and interact with a non-speaking listener. Maybe this speaking strategy is used in any context when we feel that the listener may not fully master the language or has difficulty to understand us.”

Over time humans have bred dogs to be more baby-like, which only makes humans bond with them more, Evan Maclean, an evolutionary anthropologist at the University of Arizona not involved in the study tells Nicola Davis at The Guardian. “As a result of selection for juvenile traits, dogs emit a lot of signals that scream ‘baby’ to humans, which can facilitate special kinds of interactions with dogs that are normally reserved for children,” he says. “The question we don’t have a great answer to is whether there are long term functional consequences of interacting with dogs in this way (e.g. effects on word learning), or if this is just a byproduct of the baby-like cues that dogs inundate us with.”

So why did the older dogs just keep chewing their bones when they heard the strangers’ voices coming from the speaker? “[M]aybe older dogs do not react that way because they are just more choosy and they want only to react with a familiar person,” Mathevon tells Briggs.

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I think there’s more to this than the slightly light-hearted tone that came across in the article (well to my ears anyway!).

If you want to study the published proceedings from The Royal Society, referred to by Jason Daley in the second paragraph, then the paper is here:

Dog-directed speech: why do we use it and do dogs pay attention to it?

Tobey Ben-Aderet, Mario Gallego-Abenza, David Reby, Nicolas Mathevon
Only one way to finish today’s post!

P.S. Don’t run the video in front of a roomful of dogs! (As we did last night!)

The things our animals say!

New studies indicate the complex language used by animals.

There is so much of interest ‘out there’ that one could spend every hour of the day just reading and learning.  Here’s a wonderful example.

Via a route that now escapes me, recently I came across a report entitled, The ABC’s of animal speech: Not so random after all. It was published on the PHYS.ORG website and knowing the leanings of readers of Learning from Dogs, I am confident that republishing it will be of interest to many.

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The ABC’s of animal speech: Not so random after all

Aug 20th, 2014

theabcsofani
The calls of many animals, from whales to wolves, might contain more language-like structure than previously thought, according to study that raises new questions about the evolutionary origins of human language.

The study, published today [August 20th] in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, analyzed the vocal sequences of seven different species of birds and mammals and found that the vocal sequences produced by the animals appear to be generated by complex statistical processes, more akin to human language.

Many species of animals produce complex vocalizations – consider the mockingbird, for example, which can mimic over 100 distinct song types of different species, or the rock hyrax, whose long string of wails, chucks and snorts signify male territory. But while the vocalizations suggest language-like characteristics, scientists have found it difficult to define and identify the complexity.

Typically, scientists have assumed that the sequence of animal calls is generated by a simple random process, called a “Markov process.” Using the Markov process to examine animal vocalization means that the sequence of variables—in this case, the vocal elements—is dependent only on a finite number of preceding vocal elements, making the process fairly random and far different from the complexity inherent in human language.

Yet, assuming a Markov process exists raises questions about the evolutionary path of animal language to human language—if animal vocal sequences are Markovian, how did human language evolve so quickly from its animal origins?

In this Science Minute from NIMBioS, Dr. Arik Kershenbaum explains new research that suggests the calls of many animals might contain more language-like structure than previously thought. Credit: NIMBioS

Indeed, the study found no evidence for a Markovian process. The researchers used mathematical models to analyze the vocal sequences of chickadees, finches, bats, orangutans, killer whales, pilot whales and hyraxes, and found most of the vocal sequences were more consistent with statistical models that are more complex than Markov processes and more language-like.

Human language uses what’s called “context-free grammars,” whereby certain grammatical rules apply regardless of the context, whereas animal language uses simple or “regular” grammar, which is much more restrictive. The Markov process is the most common model used to examine animal vocal sequences, which assumes that a future occurrence of a vocal element is entirely determined by a finite number of past vocal occurrences.

The findings suggests there may be an intermediate step on the evolutionary path between the regular grammar of animal communication and the context-free grammar of human language that has not yet been identified and explored.

“Language is the biggest difference that separates humans from animals evolutionarily, but multiple studies are finding more and more stepping stones that seem to bridge this gap. Uncovering the process underlying vocal sequence generation in animals may be critical to our understanding of the origin of language,” said lead author Arik Kershenbaum, a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis.

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Explore further: Bird study finds key info about human speech-language development

More information: Kershenbaum A, Bowles A, Freeburg T, Dezhe J, Lameira A, Bohn K. 2014. Animal vocal sequences: Not the Markov chains we thought they were. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. rspb.royalsocietypublishing.or… .1098/rspb.2014.1370

Journal reference: Proceedings of the Royal Society B

Provided by National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis

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If you wanted a reminder to be careful about what you say in front of the animals, then that study underlines that in spades, as does the closing picture!

Dog talking

(Thanks neighbour Dordie for sending it to me!)