Study Suggests That Wolves Can Communicate With One Another Using Only Their Eyes
We've all heard the phrase "puppy-dog eyes" -- but there is now definitive proof that some canines can actually communicate with their peepers!
According to a new study published in the Public Library of Science, wolves and dogs possess certain distinctive ocular characteristics which indicate that they can communicate to other members of their species using their eyes alone. This carries extra weight, as the eye-based communication system could also apply to humans.
The study was conducted by Sayoko Ueda of the Tokyo Institute of Technology at Kyoto University with 25 different types of canines. The researchers broke the studied species down into three groups based on their facial coloration and gaze.
Researchers noted that those canines who had clear pupil and eye positioning (such as wolves) tended to live in group environments, whereas those with unclear pupil and/or eye positioning (such as foxes) tended to be solitary.
Furthermore, canine species who hunted in groups tended to have very light irises as opposed to those who hunted alone. Those conducting the study deduced that these were all adaptive traits which enabled the canines who hunt in packs and live in groups to communicate with one another via gaze signal.
It's possible that the sclera, or white of the eye, evolved as a way to offset the darkness of the pupil and iris in species which use eye-based communication. This means that humans actually fall into the same category as wolves when it comes to gaze-based communication!
Sadly, it should be noted that the communication is within the species -- so gazing deeply into your dog's eyes probably won't accomplish much, except to earn you a puzzled look!