New Research Proves That Dogs Are More Like People Than We Ever Thought

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Obviously dogs are not animals. They are tiny, furry humans. (Ask any dog owner and I promise, they will corroborate this.)

This might sound like silly dog-lover talk, but science actually backs it up — at least to a degree. As NPR reports, new research reveals a genetic connection between man and his best friend.

Curious puppy lying on the floor and looking at laptop.
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Why? Well, dogs have been with us for a very long time —15,000 years, actually. And, traveling with humans for that long has led to an interesting scientific side effect; we've evolved together in some of the same. Exact. Ways.

Scientists in China have found, for example, that dogs and humans have developed the same genetic protection against malaria. Literally, the same gene — ADGRE1. As in, that gene is in both humans and dogs and serves the same purpose in each. But there's more.

Dogs and humans in Tibet have evolved with the ESPA1 gene, which helps their blood cope with low levels of oxygen.

Young woman with Beagle dog in the park
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"The classic example of convergent evolution is altitude adaptation in Tibetans — and their dogs," geneticist Adam Boyko at Cornell University (who wasn't involved in the current study) explained to NPR. "Lo and behold! Dogs in Tibet also have a mutation in ESPA1 that confers resistance to low oxygen levels."

Morning walk with dog
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Since dogs and humans are evolving so similarly, geneticists are starting to pay attention to them in a big way. The secrets to uncovering new human genes could actually be in dogs. As if we needed one more reason to confirm that dogs are the BEST.

Would you like to learn more about what you're reading? Cuteness is the place for health and behavior information about pets! Scroll through this piece about a how dogs communicate with each other using a unique method. Also, follow Cuteness on Facebook and subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date on the latest pet research!