Pet Dogs and Orphan Bonobos: How Concern for Welfare Can Create an Engine for Discovery

Pet Dogs and Orphan Bonobos: How Concern for Welfare Can Create an Engine for Discovery


I’m gonna talk about work with both
primates and dogs. I’m gonna actually focus a little bit more on the work with
dogs, as Joanne said, especially the sort of the science or the discoveries we’ve
made and then but what I want to do is I want to relate the science that we’ve
done and the discoveries we’ve made about dogs and dog psychology to the
challenge of social housing. How do we think about welfare? How do we think
about what social housing means for different species? And what I want to
suggest to you today is I think that taking an account evolution will be very
very powerful as we go forward. All right so I present a lot at a lot of different
conferences in front of a lot of different audiences and just like anyone
who has their own area of research I have my own methods that we have used
and developed and I have to say that sometimes it’s a little intimidating to
go to a conference where there are people presenting fMRI approaches or
maybe genome comparisons etc and I rock up and I say well you know we’ve made a
whole bunch of discoveries about how the mind of animals works by putting food
inside of a box and then closing it, but that’s what I want to suggest you today
is that methods as simple as putting food in a box and closing it can reveal
much about the animal mind not just species differences but something we’ve
been really interested in more recently individual differences. What is it that
makes an individual animal potentially different than another? So let me give
you an example just to let you see what I’m talking about this is an extremely
powerful test believe it or not this is our fMRI of dog phenotyping. Here we go
we put it we put food in a box that the dog has been able to get food out of
this box previously but then as evil experimentalist we seal the box and make
it impossible for them to open. You’re gonna see this dog that is at the
Canine Companions for Independence, it’s a group that trains the largest number
of assistance dogs placed out with people with mental and physical
disabilities, this dog says I can get it this is my treat,
I’m getting it myself, I don’t need any help, whatever you do and we’ve sped it
up because this dog was so adamant about getting it. So this dog is from the exact same
population, raised exactly the same way, trained exactly the way the same way, and
it says hey human, you have a thumb get the thing, come on, hey I can’t get it out,
I’m a dog, I’m a dog guys help me, help me okay.
So it ends up that this simple test elicits very different responses across
individuals in a population that has had close breeding, has been reared you know
almost identically, and you know it’s being trained in a very very similar way
and it ends up that the silly little test and the differences that we see
here they’ve really helped us identify what jobs each individual dog might be
best at. So if you have a group of puppy dogs that you’re training to work and let me just start out by saying believe
it or not dogs have more jobs than ever now, they’re very busy people, and just
like if you have a group of undergraduates who you don’t know what
they’re actually going to end up majoring in, and what major they should
major in, and what would be best for them when they come in as your student. It’s
the same with these cute little puppies up here, they all have different
cognitive profiles I would suggest to you, and the question is which cognitive
profile is best for which job because it ends up because dogs have all these
different jobs well they’re different things that they need to be able to do
at all of these different jobs so how do you know which dog is the right dog for
the different jobs they are asked to do? So whether it’s being a pet, or finding
IEDs, or helping a child as a therapy dog, or being a service dog for somebody
who’s wheelchair-bound. So that’s our challenge and what we found with the
little games that we play and we play dozens of them and looked at individual
differences is that the games that we that game that I just showed you it
really helped discriminate between dogs that would be excellent bomb detecting
dogs and dogs that would be really helpful at helping those with mental and
physical disabilities. So you can imagine the first dog that’s trying to solve the
on its own probably not the person you’re the dog you’re gonna put with a
person with disabilities. The second dog is fantastic communicative very
attentive worried trying to figure out what what the human could do with them
together and cooperate. So it ends up that these little games are very it ends
up not just we we don’t just find a correlation, we did we did find
correlations with these different games with performance, but then we went back
and tried to predict which dogs would be best at which dog which job each
different job and we were able to predict with higher accuracy which dogs
would be better at what job. So how did we do this? How did we end up with this
little game where we put food in a box? It’s ridiculous, of course, we were
embarrassed to say that this is what we were doing when we explained to our
colleagues that you know we were going to spend weeks and use tons of their
time to put food in a box they think we’re ridiculous.
Well, the reason that we got there and the reason that we were able to stand up
and you know say that this is really important to do is because we were using
an evolutionary approach to cognitive abilities and the idea is that each
species is different they have different cognitive abilities and that there are
different cognitive abilities that vary independently within species and across
species. So this is a very different way to view the world then there’s some
general principle like learning ability or you know the ability to solve
problems some general principle really the idea is there’s different types of
cognition it varies independently you can measure it and it predicts what
different animals might be good at. So take for instance the species up on this
slide I get this I get asked this question by people in the media all the
time which species is smarter tell me is it cat or dog in the war
tell me are cats or dogs the smart ones and so they really frustrate people in
the media because I refuse to answer their question and what I always respond
is asking me that is like asking me which is a better tool a hammer or a
screwdriver am I hammering or am I screwing in a screw? Because the minds of
animals are designed the exact same way, there does they have evolved to solve
the problems to be really really good at solving the problems that they need to
solve in the ecologies that they evolved within and so if we want
understand how cognition is interacting with the environment and how best to
utilize that cognition or to take care of that cognition in the case of welfare
then appreciating that cognition evolves I think is a very powerful way forward.
So for instance all these species up here you might think well what in the
world could the fish possibly be on that slide for of course the fish isn’t
particularly smart what about the birds well if I just sort of say the
highlights of all these different species each of these species have an
incredible unique capability and there are others as well and each of them
could outperform all the other species on this slide if you were to give them
the task or the problem that they are designed and evolved to solve in a
flexible spontaneous manner. So thinking about the evolution of cognition I would
submit to you is a very powerful way to solve problems okay so the challenge
that we have here and I think our hypothesis is that happier animals are
going to lead to better transitional translational science and I’ve given you
the first example, I think, is that we were tasked by the Office of Naval
Research to help them select better dogs we were tasked by the National Institute
of Health helped us select better dogs and by using evolution we were able to
do that we came up with our silly little task to put food in a box and all the
others so I want to tell you a little bit about the story of how that happened.
Okay but before I do I want to introduce you in case you have never heard of Niko
Tinbergen the Nobel Laureate in ethology because really when I’m talking about an
evolutionary approach to behavior I’m talking about Niko Tinbergen four levels
of analysis. I don’t think we can make progress for instance with social
housing if we don’t consider a species phylogeny, if we don’t consider there are
ontogeny, and if we don’t think about functional explanations for mechanism I
think that function often will help us predict what mechanisms that we want to
understand better. So taking an account phylogeny, ontogeny, function approximate
to understand proximate mechanisms is going to be a theme throughout
everything you’re gonna see I’m not going to highlight every time I talk
about or you these things but I hope what you’ll note
is throughout all the things that I’m gonna present today wow I’m really
bouncing between these different levels of explanation I’m not just focused on
mechanism I appreciate that to understand whatever mechanism it is I
must take into account these other levels of analyses. Okay and the
prediction that I would submit to you is that if we want happier animals and
better translational science that really taking the evolutionary approach that
I’m gonna try to outline for you today is gonna be the most powerful tool to
improving welfare. And of course what am I talking about, obviously, I think that
the core of everything that we hope to accomplish as the community is
highlighted by the 3R’s and they’re defined here I just grabbed this
actually I just googled you know the 3R’s and this came up which was kind of
cool that it was there and available and these are the definitions that were on
somebody slide deck that I stole off Google sorry whoever it is but the
reason I did it is I wanted to remind my own I want to remember myself well how
is it that people think about the 3 R’s and actually when I looked at these
definitions I thought man I thought I was doing the 3R’s but I don’t really
think that I fit this definition and I think it’s important for the rest of our
time together because in some ways I’m sort of an odd fit for the goals here
because I actually don’t have any animals in a laboratory that I study
everything that I do are animals that somebody else owns and so I’m always
joke that I’m the ultimate mooch if you have animals I might have a conversation
with you. And so what I would do is I would say this is how I’ve approached
the 3R’s, it’s slightly different and I’m not suggesting that that’s gonna be
appropriate for those of you doing work with laboratory animals, but I just want
to tell you that this is what I came up with is wow
if I’m gonna meet the the 3R’s and for the goals of my non-invasive research I
actually don’t want a controlled environment
I want the animals I’m working with in the richest possible environment, I want
them to be in an environment as close to what they might experience in nature as
possible, because I want them to show the most sophisticated cognitive abilities
that they could possibly demonstrate otherwise I won’t be able to
test the hypotheses I’m interested in in a powerful way. So I don’t want them in
laboratories number one, number two is for the purposes of what I do there
wasn’t that much funding for laboratory work, and then number three is a lot of
the questions that I want to add and that I wanted to answer it just wouldn’t
be possible to to work in a laboratory to answer them. So this was the sort
of 3R approach I came up with and as a first example of this I want to
introduce you to the approach we developed at the Duke Canine Cognition
Center. So at Duke, Nate already told me
he’s buddies with Ron Banks and you could imagine I show up as an Assistant
Professor at Duke University and you know I have my first meeting with Ron
and Ron was in charge of the IACUC committee and OLAW and all that stuff and he says
well Dr. Hare I got this email here that you want to study people’s pets, pet dogs,
we don’t you know we don’t have a way to deal with that with our normal
procedures but you know it seems like this is something that could be
important so I’m gonna I want to work with you. And it was amazing, he was
genius and came up with a way a workaround so that Duke could feel
comfortable the IACUC committee could feel comfortable, OLAW could feel
comfortable, with me inviting people in the community to bring their pet dogs to
the Duke Canine Cognition Center which is only called a center because people
probably didn’t want to bring their dogs to the Duke Canine Cognition Laboratory.
And so we have 1,500 pet owners in the Triangle area that bring their pet dogs
and in the beginning I thought well this might work once you know maybe they’ll
bring their dogs one time and we won’t ask that much the first time and it ends
up that we have a 99% success rate if we call one of our people and say can you
bring your dog on X date and we find a good time for them they come and they
show up. This is based on the developmental psychology model and in
developmental psychology where you invite people’s children to come in your
success rate is around 25 percent have a having two young children I completely
understand that it’s like sure I’ll be there yeah I’ll bring my kid no problem
you know baby but when you have dog owner
it’s they’re so enthusiastic and they so badly want to participate that we have
never had a problem so I’ve never paid a vet bill, I’ve never had to pay for food,
I’ve never had to pay for anything for these animals and I have the largest
population of captive dogs to study at any university when we start. So that was
the model and now we’re we’ve invited different people now seven eight times
to participate people keep coming back unless their dog and unless their dog
dies were in great shape. So it’s been really exciting to see the enthusiasm of
the local community. Okay so how did in the world did I forget started studying
dogs? Well, the answer is I was really interested I was a student of Mike
Tomasello I actually went to Emory University and I met and I’ve took
classes with Franz Duvall here as well and I started out at at Yerkes studying
chimpanzees and what we were doing was we were trying to test the idea that
human cognition the unique feature of human cognition that develops very early
in our lives is our ability to understand gestural communication that
when we gesture and we try to tell young children or children start to gesture to
us or start co-orienting when I gaze you might follow my gaze that these at
around nine to twelve months when they first start to appear are sort of
revolutionary moments in the development of human social cognition that indicate
that young children are starting to participate in culture and that if you
want to learn language these skills have to develop. Okay so that’s an incredible
hypothesis I’m 19 years old and somebody’s telling me that little kids
are a window into understanding our evolutionary history and sort of what is
unique and special about our species relative to other animals. Man
alright so Mike Thomas has to go out to Yerkes I want you to work with Joseph
Call and you’re gonna sit in front of some of the chimpanzees and you’re just
gonna hide food and then tell them where you hid it and that’s the game you’re
gonna play. You’re gonna hide food and one or two places and you’re gonna sort
of gesture point look move towards wherever the food’s hidden. Oh my god
they’re terrible bless Tye’s heart, bless Erika’s heart, you’ll meet them
hopefully some of them Donna others at the field station. Oh
they were terrible at this, they are brilliant in so many ways, but this was
really really difficult for them. So Mike Tomasello just told me the story
that I told you and he said wow you know we’re finding the chimpanzees are as
smart as they are at so many other things they really aren’t very good at
this gestural communication stuff so now I know that this is completely unique to
our species and it must be really important in human evolution. Well I
grew up in Atlanta and this was my pet dog growing up Oreo and I said to Mike I
think my dog can do this, I think my dog can do that, I think my dog could use
gestures because growing up just down the street with this guy he wasn’t
different than any other Labrador Retriever he was obsessed with playing
fetch just like every Labrador Retriever is but he did one funny thing is he did
like to have two tennis balls or three tennis balls at all times which he would
cover in massive amounts of slobber and so then you would throw them those big
slobbery balls oft in the distance but the thing is when he came back with the
first one he wasn’t happy for you to then throw the second of the the same
ball again he wanted to find the second ball okay.
So he’d come back with the first one and then he would drop it and he would start
barking incessantly until you gestured in the direction that the second ball
had been thrown. So then he would run off in orbit in that direction. So I just
grew up I was I mean I was trained by this dog this is what dogs do it never
occurred to me that this was in any way special or interesting. As Mike Tomaseelo said this is completely unique
to humans and I say no I think my dog can do this.
So Mike being a great scientist at first says well you know everybody says the
dog can do calculus and I said oh no no no really really really am I talking did
I tell the story I just told you and he says what you see really serious so this
is a great moment in science where I learned what science is he said I will
help you figure out how to prove me wrong and now let’s do an experiment, and
we did and we did a whole series of experiments and it ends up that Oreo the
pet dog that I tested and started all this stuff in a garage in Atlanta and my
parents garage we found out dogs are really good at this and it’s not a silly
parlor trick it’s not like it’s something they do and flexibly they’ve
learned it seems that they understand how we’re gesturing to them and they
pass all the same kind of that we give young children and
attribute an understanding of community could have intentioned to them they’re
passing all the same games that we couldn’t even try with the chimps at
Yerkes because they couldn’t even pass the most basic things in this area. Okay
so here’s an example of what it looks like this is a Fifi this is actually in
Leipzig Germany Fifi is just looking for the grape
there’s the grape there it’s like an RO1 grant for her get it got to get it and
I’m just gonna tell her where it is there it is and branch she chooses the
wrong one scratch their head is so hard and confusing and if you play this game
over and over and over you to predict it they would get better right they would
sort of slowly go above chance even they could slowly learn this I mean you’re
talking hundreds of trials before they start performing above chance and it’s
simply because and we’ll get there that it really is all about the context. So
here is the silly mutt in Germany again never seen this game before play the
exact same game and you’ll see the dogs and say well why didn’t you just hand it
to me. And what we found was that when we
compared a group of dogs to a group of chimpanzees we use this novel cue
putting the block on top because the idea is this is something they’ve never
seen before we can control for things like
olfaction it’s not that the dogs just smell where the food is it’s also not
that the dogs are just using your motion they really do seem to understand even
though they’ve never seen this arbitrary novel cue oh you’re just trying to tell
me where it is okay sure I can use that and they’ll do it on trial one no
problem. So it ends up if this was a big thing in the news when it came out oh
dogs are smarter than chimpanzees okay which of course you know as somebody who
just presented to you the cognitive approach to cognition a hammer and
screwdriver it was sort of depressing that that was the headline you know
because yes if it was chimpanzees or our dogs are smarter than chimpanzees when
it comes to communicating with humans I’d have been happy with that because of
course chimpanzees in many ways can run circles around dogs.
Alright, so subsequently since we published this first finding we got we
said well is this really true let’s go big with this because if it is true it
could be really useful and important not only in a basic sense to test
evolutionary ideas but also on a more apply to sense. So what we did is we
tested hundreds of kids we tested hundreds of dogs and we tested over a
hundred chimpanzees that were totally novel to all the cognitive testing are
such sorry naive to the cognitive testing and we tested them on over two
dozen cognitive a set of over 2,000 cognitive measures and the idea here is
that really if the social communicative stuff is somehow unique and special to
dogs well it should be that those games are where dogs are really different and
maybe even more similar to human infants than other things let’s say like spatial
memory or inhibitory control in in those domains and the non social things well
dogs probably aren’t very different than your general your you know many other
mammals if this really is that the social cognition in dogs is somehow
unique and special. Ok so we threw the kitchen sink at it we came up with as
many games as we could to measure a variety of cognitive abilities but
interestingly what what we did is four of the social games that we tested
across these three species and four of the non social tests we’re exactly the
same for dog, human, chimpanzee. Okay and this is what we found when we looked at
all these different species performance on all these different cognitive
measures well it ends up that if it’s if you need to know directions or you want
to understand something like gravity or connectivity don’t ask your dog please
don’t ask your dog your dog doesn’t have a clue anything that has to do with the
physical world dogs are completely lost okay but where there genius the one
species that is most similar to two and a half year old children when it comes
to using gestural communication understanding communicative intention
and knowing how to understand others if the other is a human it’s a dog dogs are
genius and what makes them remarkable relative to other species is their
ability to communicate with humans. Well in some sense it’s like I’m sure many of
you live with dogs is like yes we knew that okay but the neat thing is the
comparison to different species. Okay so let’s continue that comparison and not
look at just mean performance of a group of dogs versus a group of other
species what about individual differences I promise you we talk about
individual differences so this is like a phylogeny of the relationship of
performance across these eight tasks that I told you that were the same
across the three different species and what I want you to think about is in
math class they would say you were good at math if they could give you one
equation and you could solve it and that would then predict that you could solve
all the other equations that they might give you okay and if you were good at
English they said write an essay about
Shakespeare and that meant who you could really really write a good essay about
another author that they wanted you to write about okay so writing one good
essay would predict that you could write a good another good essay but writing
about Shakespeare doesn’t predict what you would do on those equations and
being able to solve the equation wouldn’t be able to predict what you
would do on the essays that’s the idea that there are these different domains
of cognition that there really is something called English ability and
math ability so what we’re looking at in the case of these animals compared to
kids is social skill versus non social skill and the prediction is if these
things really are different as I suggested to you in the beginning that
they should actually correlate to one another in terms of performance the
social measures if you’re good at one of the social measures that should be
related to your performance on all the other social measures if you’re good at
the non social measures that should be related to your performance on all the
non social measures and actually the truth the the relationship is true if
you actually do badly on one you should do badly on the others. Okay so this is
what we find with the human kids that human kids that do really well on some
of the social measures in orange well they do well on the social measures on
the other social measures and same for non social what happens when we look at
chimpanzees well it ends up that these things aren’t related
it does seem in the case of chimpanzees that they’re probably using some general
purpose mechanism to try to solve the social problems and the the indiv the
pattern of individual differences between human infant and chimpanzee
really looks different here so that’s really interesting and that does
replicate a larger effort we we made comparing chimps and humans. What about
dogs? Well when we looked at dogs dogs actually have an even more pronounced
a relationship between these different domains of cognition so if you were to
ask me named a nonhuman species that is most like humans when it comes to the
cognitive skills that allow for language and culture I would say a dog I would
not say a chimpanzee or a primate it’s actually a dog the dog dogs have skills
that we think are crucial for developing language and culture it just happens
there in a canine mind not in a primate brain.
So that’s convergent convergence in terms of psychology potentially is what
I’m suggesting to you but what I want to now turn to is the idea that it’s not
just convergence in psychology by accident its convergence through
evolution and that actually it’s the process of domestication that led to the
patterns who we see here. Okay so we tested wolves and we tested young dog
puppies and it ends up the relationships that I just explained to you hold so
wolves look like chimpanzees when we play these types of games and young dog
puppies actually are very skilled even at as young at six to nine weeks old
they’re just as skilled as adult dogs at solving many of the basic social tasks
we’re talking about. So that was a big surprise that’s not what we thought, we
thought that you really have to train dogs to be able to use the social
gestures and really do a lot of repetitive training. It ends up young
dogs young dog puppies with very little exposure to humans are very good at
understanding of reading humans early emerging set of skills in dogs. Okay so
we suggested that this was a result of domestication this this cognitive
profile but how would you test that short of grabbing up a bunch of wolves
and starting breeding them selectively and what you know how would we answer it
and then what would we breed them for what would we be selecting on on what
basis well thankfully just by traveling to Siberia which I did I got to work
with Dmitry Belyayev’s experimentally domesticated foxes on the fox farm run
by the institution Institute of Psychology and Genetics and what they
selected for over 60 years friendliness. So if foxes were friendly
in the experimental population they bred them together and they allowed them to
have puppies. So 1% of each generation was allowed to have puppies and that was
based on a very standardized test where literally they just went in for what the
reaction of the fox was to the human you can imagine doing this with the rhesus
macaque it might take a while and so they started with a wild population
actually a wild population of foxes and so after 60 years they have effectively
experimentally domesticated the population of foxes and the reason that
they know this is because they brilliantly kept a line as a control
that they bred randomly for how they respond to humans and when you compare
the experimental line to the control line and the two populations were kept
in absolutely identical situation in terms of their care and what they ate
etc what you see is not only the predicted changes in friendliness
towards people but you also see a set of morphological changes you see a set of
physiological changes and you also see changes in how they breed and their
reproductive behavior so it ends up that the this is the breeding season for the
experimental line and this is the breeding season for the control line. So
instead of being able to reproduce for six weeks they can now reproduce for six
months and their development is different as well they have an expanded
window of development in the control versus in the experimental line so you
can socialize the experimental line earlier you can socialize them longer to human
contact and there are all sorts of other patterns and development where you see
expanded windows of development none of these things were selected they selected
for none of these traits they all came along as byproducts of selection for
friendliness and there’s a question as to what the
mechanism might be one one idea is that it’s pleiotropic but it’s a
developmental story early in the development of the neural crest as stem
cells are migrating throughout the body and there being there’s induction as
these cells travel throughout the body stem cell stem cells that emanate from
the neural crest are involved in melanocytes development in development
of cartilage bone and also the HPA axis as well and so if you want to down
regulate the HPA axis well you’re actually by actually gonna affect all
these other traits because they’re developmentally linked due to the neural
crest it’s a hypothesis there might be other good ones but the phenomenon that
needs to be explained is real and and I think very exciting. But I study
cognition, so what did I do with the wolves well we did I’m sorry I this is a
video of wolves but what did we do with the foxes well what we did with the
foxes was exactly what we did here with these wolves we just gave one of our
little simple little social cue tests actually we gave a series of them here’s
an example of one of them with a wolf pup this is a wolf pup in Minnesota
there’s a sanctuary of about 70 wolves up there and every summer they tend to
have a few litters so we go and study the wolves there it’s always difficult
to get students, it involves bottle-feeding wolves for weeks by the
way before you even get to this moment. So here’s the data and remember Tinbergen I thinking about ontogeny, phylogeny and function I think
we’ve got it all covered on this one slide so looking at young fox pups and
here your experimental foxes and control and here your dogs and your wolves what
I would submit to you is we have evidence for convergent cognitive
evolution as a result of domestication and basically by selecting the foxes to
be friendly you changed how the foxes viewed humans they no longer viewed them
as predators or something to be feared something to be worried about but they
actually viewed the foxes are sorry they viewed humans as social partners, as
someone to be attracted to, someone to interact with and I can tell you having
hung out with the foxes they want to jump in your arms and that is what they
want in their life it is what they are motivated for and they are so excited
and if you pick one up it’s so wonderful and they hug you and they they chirp and
they make these little sounds even as adults that they make when they’re
puppies and it’s quite endearing except for then they pee for joy all
over you and they have musk glands and you smell like you’ve been loved by a fox.
So anyway especially if you have to repeat this process many times. So the
idea is after controlling for development looking at an experimental
selection of friendliness what you see is if you want a clever fox and actually
this is not what I predicted the result would be if you want a clever fox you
don’t select for cleverness you select for friendliness and you get a socially
clever fox as a result just like floppy ears and curly tails are a byproduct of
selection against aggression so – it seems social cognition is a byproduct of
social of selection for friendliness. Okay and the idea is that if you want to
explain dog domestication Belyaev has given us the most beautiful model to do
so and it’s very very clear now what domestication is, domestication is
selection for friendliness towards people, and selection against fear and
aggression towards people. Hmm so I submit to you that this could be
relevant now to thinking about social housing and welfare. One of the other
thing that’s really interesting that’s been discovered just this year is that
I’m sure many of you have been in this situation before where the dog is
staring at you and you’re like what what do you want no you can’t have my food or
whatever and so one of the really exciting findings is and of course many
of you probably if I asked you do you love your dog you say of course I love
my dog I love my dog and we might have horrible philosophical debates about you
know kind of dog love us but nobody would probably want to have the same
debate with anybody about whether they love their dog because they might get in
trouble and so what I can tell you is that the physiological response that we
see or observed between parent and offspring it’s also occurring between
dog and human. Just this a couple years ago there was and there was sort of the
final cherry on top of the cake showing that there seems to be an
oxytocin loop between human and dog that when you’re making eye contact or you’re
petting your dog it’s creating oxytocin and you it’s creating oxytocin and the
dog and the bond and the love that you’re feeling it’s real there’s a
physiological explanation for why we care so much about our dogs and what I
what was also really interesting is that doesn’t exist in human wolf’s
interactions when wolves are raised by people even for their entire life you do
not get the oxytocin loop it does seem that this is a product of domestication.
Now we haven’t tested in the foxes would that be great but the prediction would
be that probably the experimental foxes would show something more like what dogs
show. Alright so because of this work that I just presented to you we
suggested the self domestication hypothesis and I think thankfully I’m
not gonna tell you about how I think it helps explain many different
evolutionary events but the idea is that selecting for friendliness yes that’s
artificial selection in the case of the foxes but if you’re telling me that all
domestication is is selection for friendliness interacting with people or
maybe even selection for friendliness interacting with con-specifics well that
opens the door for natural selection, that perhaps selection for friendliness
is a process that’s occurred through natural selection and we’ve gone and
compared lots of different species and tried to think about is the same process
we’ve seen in the foxes can we observe it in other places in nature so
everything from bonobos to our own species even this is the deer that lives
in my neighborhood and I would submit to you that it’s not chance that we have a
extremely rare albino deer walking up our driveway and eating your azaleas.
Okay because I think it’s the process of self domestication. Okay and let’s just
do this with dogs though really quickly. Here I am with a group of wolf pups
these are all wolf pups that have been raised by people they’re very familiar
with people they were taken away from their moms very very early and they want
nothing to do with me the only reason they approach is you can’t really see it
but there’s kibble all across the ground that they they’re actually not
interested in approaching me they just are trying to get close enough to get
the kibble. Again, these are wolves raised by people but they want nothing to do
with a strange human, meanwhile, to get the photo there was actually a dog in
here and it was running around and we had to have wait to take the photo till
the dog was out of the photo because I wouldn’t be as cool you know I haven’t I
haven’t met the dog I mean the dog is that I you know I don’t know this dog so
the the point is that dogs love people they’re attracted they want to be with
us they actually prefer us and the thinking goes sorry with the self
domestication hypothesis for dog evolution is that there’s individual
variability of 40 to 50 thousand years ago when we know dogs started to evolved
from wolves and think now forty to fifty thousand years ago there’s no
agriculture okay this is way before agriculture so how did this interaction
happen and how did wolves evolve forty to fifty thousand years ago when we know
from genetic comparisons this is when the population started to verge. Well the
idea goes there’s individual variability as humans become more sedentary forty
within starting around forty thousand years ago we do what we do best we
created a lot of garbage and guess what human garbage is fantastic if you are a
population of wolves that is not fearful and is potentially or sorry if you’re
individuals who are not fearful and you’re attracted to humans more than
your other wolf brethren. So the idea would be if you could take an advantage
of all the new garbage you have this amazing resource a new ecological niche
to exploit there’s one thing you need you need to be friendly and non
aggressive and attracted to people so that kick starts the evolutionary
process and I could I would love to tell you more about this idea but the
punchline is you end up with these animals as a result of natural selection.
Humans didn’t wake up one day and say oh you know it’d be great let’s go catch
some wolves and while we’re hunting and gathering forty thousand years ago let’s
leave them with our kids well they’ll be great isn’t a great idea and then we’ll
get twice as much food today so we can also feed the wolves you know no that’s
not what happened. I think wolves chose us and they
wouldn’t go away and as a result of a natural process they were self selected
and they were domesticated through a process that Belyaev brilliantly
together with ??? has elucidated for us. So if you want to
understand how this has to do with human evolution what this has to do with the
evolution of even bonobos and dogs I wrote a review for the Annual Review of
Psychology that just came out this year I would invite you to go enjoy it. But,
what I want to turn to now is I want to say okay I told you the dog story and
the evolutionary story and I want to remind you how we started because how we
started is how I finished I didn’t start with the cute little game and the food
in the box I started with what I just told you we did really great
evolutionary work and detective work trying to figure out what makes a dog
special and remarkable and how have they done this incredible trick to evolve
from wolf the dog and be successful and live on every continent with us and have
us love and adore them and the answer is they’ve evolved not
just in terms of their morphology and behavior but also their cognition they
have converged with how our own cognition works. Okay so given that and
given the model that we use testing people’s pet dogs and other working dogs
I want to take take you out and just show you well okay that’s great you know
it worked for you what about other people and it’s catching on so there are
now six universities and that I highlighted in this slide but there’s
actually many more I could have put up here and I actually would submit to you
that the dog is going to save comparative psychology because it puts
comparative psychology work in a very unique place where I think most science
would like to be instead of being you cost a lot of money and maybe or maybe
not there’s a lot of money for your research we are extremely cheap, we cost
almost nothing, and we can bring in a lot of money. So universities like that and
so we’ve been very successful at bringing in money except for we have
almost no overhead by studying people’s pets. Okay so that’s why I think we’re
you’re gonna see a lot more canine cognition centers in the United States
which is really exciting and think about it because the challenges we have with
say primates and I love and I’m gonna tell you about my love of great apes in
a second I love great apes but the challenge there is for in
since I study bonobos in Congo well guess what I am the only person that
necessarily has access at any time to the world’s largest population of
bonobos I have 70 bonobos I can work with no one else has 70 bonobos they can
work with so has anybody ever gonna replicate anything I do so it’s actually
quite depressing from a scientific perspective I want people to be able to
replicate my work potentially falsify it and move things forward so we reveal the
truth, dogs don’t have that problem. Also it’s wonderful when you’re piloting you
no longer have to worry about well I only have six Apes I can do this with so
I feel really careful as I’m piloting that I don’t burn one of my subjects
with dogs yeah whatever just pilot doesn’t matter if you mess up we’ll get
more so it’s so nice . Okay and remember we play fun games and this is to
emphasize that so the thought occurred well wait a second
given there 1500 people in the Triangle area they’d like to do this why are we
keeping this to ourselves I mean these you know not all science is
rocket science maybe we could use this as a real opportunity to educate people
about what science is and what if we could get people to collect data for us
and pay us for it. So we said why not let’s try so we came
up with the concept of dognition and the idea is let’s get people to play
cognitive games with their dogs will provide video instruction of how to do
it and you can go to dogmission.com right now and check it out you can play
with your dog if you want it cost 20 bucks it is a company and it is
for-profit but the idea is that we provide games that you can play you have
a interface on your phone or your iPad or whatever and you can tell us what
your dog did as you play these games of course we’re collecting all the data
and we have a huge database now of over 25,000 dogs that have played these games
but at the same time you get a report and it tells you how your dog performed
on these different cognitive measures compared to all the other dogs to play
these games and the idea is to try to help people understand that it’s not
that your dog is smart or not because it’s what people always say to me my dog
is so dumb or my dog is so smart and I always think in my head compared
to what and and on what measure and so that’s what this solves is compared to
other dogs across five different measures of cognition you can see how
your dog does and what’s interesting is of course
there’s many many different cognitive profiles and people are always really
surprised and excited to see how their dogs do. So there’s the selfish
motivation to learn more about your dog but at the same time you’re being
altruistic and providing a great service to the community. We tested whether this
data has anything to tell us because of course the worry was could people really
do these games at home and would it be useful at all and I was ready to you
know publish a paper and say no it’s not useful it’s a great educational tool but
we’re not gonna be able to use the data but when we did the analysis it ends up
that really the citizen scientists replicated all the main findings because
all the games we use we’re out of the literature we didn’t make them up we
took games right out of the public literature and provided them for people
and we found beautiful evidence for these different cognitive abilities and
it was the first demonstration actually that the cognitive abilities that I’ve
pitched to you actually do really exist in non-humans. So high-five for citizen
science and deputizing all these people it means we can answer a whole bunch of
questions because we have large sample sizes whether it’s breed differences,
diet, development, aging, how you train your dog and then we can look across the
world because we actually have data from over of our twenty five thousand dogs
25% of those are actually from a worldwide sample of from over 200
countries so are different regions. So that’s quite exciting and so what I’d
submit to you is that studying dogs really does meet my own criteria for the
3R’s and I think it’s a very powerful model. So what I want to turn to next
though is not everybody can study dogs and now they’re interested in dogs and
of course and not just a non vasive approach so what about great apes and
what I want to or primates I should say more general and other species as well.
So let me just stop here and just check on time how am i doing on time because I
want to make sure 10 to 15 minutes no problem ok so I have 10 to 15 minutes
and what I want to do is introduce you to where I study non-human primates and
then I’m going to literally blast through some of the findings like
click-click click-click and just tell you what they were and
then I want to finally get to the end of the talk we’re going to talk about more
what do we do with laboratory science and how do we use an evolutionary
approach in that way so forgive me for going fast here but I just want to make
sure I have enough time to cover the meat. Alright so what’s wrong with this
video the first thing is it’s gonna play upside down which is quite entertaining
I don’t know why I’ve never seen this before it’s only unique to this room
besides the fact that it’s playing upside down what’s wrong with this video
so you have my daughter playing with a chimpanzee it’s quite cute it looks like
a modern facility if you can turn your head upside down you’ll see that well
what’s wrong with the video is it ends up that this was in China and we went to
the Beijing Zoo on purpose to visit these chimpanzees because they were not
only being used in entertainment but we know that they were illegally exported
using illegal Cite’s permits from western Africa and that there’s been an
epidemic where over 150 chimpanzees were illegally exported we know now that it’s
far more than that and more places as well and as you can see from this slide
it’s not just zoos that are doing this or entertainment facilities it’s also
unfortunately there’s a burgeoning pet trade as well. So if you’re worried about
great apes survival this is really the the big problem that needs to be solved
because having a perceived market is bad enough but actually having a real market
is even worse apes are being sold for 50 to 300 thousand dollars to zoos to be
exported directly out of Africa to the Middle East in China. Okay so where do I
work well I work with sanctuaries the there are 19 sanctuaries in Africa that
are on the frontlines of preventing the illegal trade the illegal pet trade and
bushmeat trade of great apes it means that they provide lifetime care for
hundreds of individuals all over Africa I work at Lola ya Bonobo which I already
mentioned they have the world’s largest population of bonobos unfortunately
there are hundreds of infants in these sanctuaries but if you happen to be me
who I studied developmental psychology that’s wonderful because I have hundreds
of ape infants and not just chimpanzee infants
and not just East African chimpanzees but I have West and Central and I also
have bonobo infants so I can do some really nice comparisons that would be
impossible otherwise and relevant to the conference they all are socially housed
and they live in beautiful forests like this this is Lola ya Bonobo all the Apes
I work with are in primary forest and they experience a microcosm of what any ape
would experience in the wild. They’re orphans unfortunately so they do get
raised by people before they’re introduced their peer reared in a
nursery group not unlike what used to happen here at Yerkes and then they’re
introduced into social groups and these large forests. This is actually one of my
subjects so when I told you I want ecological relevance I wasn’t joking
this is one of the guys that we get to work with you know I think most vets
would be really nervous about this but he was fine. So they live in these really
rich environments and they live in really rich social environments. Okay so
this is what they look like when they come in and this is Lamella then this
is Lamella a year later and this is where Lamella is now Lamella started out
at the sanctuary here in Kinshasa and then she moved to Basankusu which I’ve
had the pleasure of visiting in the deepest darkest heart of Africa and
there she is in the wild so the goal of the sanctuary is to take these orphans
rehabilitate them and then get them back out into the wild which we’ve
successfully done and we’ve actually of the 15 bonobos we’ve released a 13 of
them are still out there and doing great we did lose two. But I’m a psychologist
and interested in evolution I’ve become interested in health as a result of my
work within the sanctuaries and these sanctuaries I’d submit to you have
become really a fantastic resource for anybody interested in non-invasive work
with great apes or veterinary work. And so I’m just want to roll through some of
the discoveries we had just this is just to say you can do the best science at
these sanctuaries this was a study that showed that social and non social
cognition differed between great apes and kids this was the first
successful experiment studying chimpanzee cooperation, this was the first
developmental comparison of bonobos and chimpanzees showing that the two species
differ and how they develop if you’re interested in studying the development
of spatial cognition don’t choose bonobos because it doesn’t develop and
there are other things as well that are really interesting about the two species
being very unique in terms of how they develop. Now in relative to social
housing this is probably the most important finding so I’ll spend an
extra second on this one this was we release chimpanzees and bonobos into an
enclosure where there was food that they could potentially share in anticipation
of realizing that they might have to share the food and knowing who they were
going to be going into the room with we were able to detect differences in how
the two species respond to this social stressor. So chimpanzees as you might
predict these are all males by the way they have no response to this situation
in terms of their cortisol levels but they do have a big uptake in their
testosterone basically it seems like they’re getting primed for social
competition. Bonobos who are nearly genetically identical isn’t a chimpanzee
a chimpanzee the answer is no bonobos have a huge cortisol spike before they
go in to this situation, no testosterone spike, again, these are all males. The same
exact social context leads to a totally different physiological response in the
two species nearly identical. So you might conclude oh my gosh but almost get
really stressed out in social groups so don’t put them together and cortisol is
such a great measure of social stress kind of I mean I don’t disagree that I
mean used cortisol as a measure of stress I don’t disagree with that except
for it ends up that bonobos when you put them together
never fight, share the food, and because they have this big stress response they
hug and have socio-sexual contact which I then think releases a whole bunch of
oxytocin reducing the cortisol and prevents any aggression. So because we
understand their social system in the evolution of their social behavior we
interpret this differently than we might just by saying oh they have high
cortisol they must be stressed. Actually, this is a wonderful response, this is the correct response, it’s not the incorrect or bad
response and you wouldn’t want to keep them in a non social environment as a
result of this. Okay so I just present that as a challenge to using our
physiological measures. This is a paper that came out in Nature this year I
think it really challenges our idea about energy budgets and humans
basically humans have are where the where the SUV of the ape world we use
way more energy than other Apes I think it has huge implications for how we
think about obesity nobody had measured total energy expenditure in great apes
in comparison to hunter-gatherers and modern humans and it totally destroys
the idea that you know the more you exercise the more the less you eat the
more energy and calories you’re gonna burn it’s not a trade-off model instead
we’re the high energy ape you’ll have to read the paper to understand what I’m
talking about I apologize because I get it got to get through but I just want to
highlight that we’re discovering big things by using these sanctuaries. One
health we’re also doing health research this is the demographic model that Lisa
Faust at the Franklin Park Zoo helped us with what we realized and we knew
already was that when we lose animals as to respiratory disease at Yerkes I know
long struggles with the respiratory and heart if animals die that’s one of the
big things for the great apes so, we see the same thing in Africa so our question
was could we do anything about it we invited Chris Wood’s and Annie Ramon to
help us with sort of an epidemic epidemiological
assessment so we’ve done a longitudinal set of health checks of both staff and
our animals we also did what I think is the first respiratory cluster study on
non-human apes and sit you so we’ve basically went in at any time any
individual had respiratory symptoms we measured them and we measured their
nearest neighbors over a series of days and got blood samples etc so we can now
it just are our samples there at Duke now and they’ve just begun investigating.
Again, it’s not just us lots of people from lots of great places are using the
sanctuaries now to study great apes on a whole host of issues and I think they’re
really serious wonderful places. Okay so I told you in the case of my work,
non-invasive work, more or less non-invasive work that’s in the interest
of the animals is either veterinary work or sort of potentially enriching fun
games how do you 3R’s but I think in the case of
laboratory I actually think these definitions are the right definition how
do we use the 3R’s effectively what I’d suggest to you is using Tinbergen
approach I think we can translate and do a better job making our animals happy
and making better discoveries. So I think thinking about wolves in relation to
your laboratory dogs is going to be important I think thinking about cavies
as it relates to your guinea pigs or whatever the wild progenitor of your
domestics are is really really important and also acknowledging the
fact that your monkeys are wild they’re not domesticated is really super
important and thinking about social housing. Ok so I’m gonna skip these two
slides but the but but the point was just to say that by thinking about
evolution and how these species evolved we did a better job measuring their
psychology where we were failing like in that Cup test I did with Fifi to find
sophistication when we took a Tim Bergen approach and we took into account the
fact that primates are so competitive we started to see abilities that we didn’t
think existed but they exist in a competitive context not in a cooperative
communicative human centric context. So all these things basically say that
primates are sophisticated as you might think they are they know what you can
see in what you can’t see and they are paying attention to you when you’re
coming in and interacting with them. So let me get specifically to welfare using
Tinbergen though if you don’t know the work of Georgia Mason I definitely I
definitely think you want to go check it out I think she’s probably a leader in
welfare research and I love her approach so this is just a pictograph of her
study on mink she asked me what they prefer they had to move a heavy door if
they wanted more toys or they wanted to go out into a bigger enclosure or if
they wanted more food or if they just wanted to hang out in water. Okay so if you
had a human centric view you’d think well jeez I probably won’t space or toys
or maybe I just want to sit around and eat a lot of food well guess what she
found the number one thing it’s a massive effect if you’re a mink you want
water, I don’t care about food I’ll move a giant heavy door to get into water
because they have evolved a predisposition to really be attracted
and enjoy water and they don’t want more toys as much as they want water you
wouldn’t have known that if you didn’t ask them. Another one of her beautiful
studies this is looking at can you predict or relate
of the health of animals in captivity based on their natural ecology so this
is looking at home range size and looking at infant mortality and also
looking at stereotype frequency so if you’re the zoo the pacing right
how often do animals and this was a zoo this is looking at zoo animals and
what she found was that animals with large home ranges their infants don’t do
as well as captivity and they tend to show a lot of these stereotyped
behaviors. So there are ways to think about how animals have been designed and
understand how they might perform in captivity. Finally, there’s a new study
just out this this week I threw this in here because it has to do with social in
meerkats it ends up meerkats at zoos if they’re in larger group sizes as zoo
visitors appear and come and visit them they show a lower stress response
basically meerkats that are in smaller groups of two or three are much more
stressed out when they’re in bigger groups they’re much more relaxed as zoo
visitors are coming and they were able to control for a lot of variables I
thought that was really interesting because I think it goes along with the
idea that in many species and think about a meerkat that suffers high
predation you know having these giant predator like things walking around
staring at you all the time when we now know animals are very sensitive to
attention and we’ve got the nice controlled studies to show that that’s
very stressful and yes I live in a social group and I depend on my social
group to reduce the chance I’ll be preyed on so I want to be in a bigger
group. This is a slide I had to get to so let me try to wrap up on this slide
so think about wolves, cavies, and your wild monkeys the difference really
between them is your cavies, and your dogs have both been domesticated and
what I would submit to you as we saw in Belyaev’s experiment is that’s a real
biological genetic process they are different and they evolved to be with
people, our monkeys did not, primates did not and so that’s going to inform how we
think about social housing all the strategies we use and the policies we
make and where we need to put the most effort. So I just have some things that
we worry about the effect of human rearing human attention dominant strange
fear of con-specifics strange con-specifics of strange humans and then aversion attraction to specific con-specifics.
In dogs, what I would say is pretty much all these things are not
particularly stress inducing relative to wolves and relative to other non
domesticate animals but here’s the really important one for dogs
there are beautiful studies showing that if you give dogs the choice between
being with other dogs or being with people if they are socialized dogs they
want to be with people. It’s not that they don’t want to be with dogs if
the choice is between nothing and a dog I think they choose the dog but if you
give them the choice between people and other dogs they choose dogs. Wolves do
not make that choice even socialized wolves want to be with other other
wolves they don’t want to be with the people that raise them. So dogs really
are attracted to us they want to be with us I think that’s very very important.
Guinea pigs I don’t think that I think they look very similar and probably many
of our other domesticated animals you’re going to be talking about rabbits etc I
think they probably are very similar except for I don’t think they have a
preference for people necessarily. Now when we go to our monkeys I think they
really do look different I think that probably the effect of human rearing is
gonna be pretty negative in terms of their ability to interact socially with
others I don’t think they like to be a human attention I think they’d be just
as happy if a human didn’t show up that day as long as they got fed and water
obviously in the case of rhesus macaques they have a very strict dominance
hierarchy but I hope we all remember that rhesus macaques are one macaque
species. For instance, Tonkean macaques if we had had the blessed accident of
having Tonkean macaques as our chosen model species wouldn’t our lives be
easier because they’re sort of like the bonobo of the macaque world and they
like each other and they like to hang out it’s not that rhesus don’t like each
other but they’re very you know tolerant of one another.
Rhesus macaques I think they’re stressed around strangers whether it’s human
strangers or it’s strangers for another group obviously they migrate or they
immigrate when they are going through puberty and that would be the time where
they’d be interested in strangers at that point in their life but past that
they’re pretty happy with their group mates and they’re not really that happy
to interact with others they don’t know. Do they have a muted HPA axis as a
result of domestication absolutely not no these are wild animals and they’re
going to behave like wild animals even though they’ve been around humans there
lives. Okay so here’s some strategies to wrap up or some implications of thinking
this way is that just particularly when it comes to primates because I feel like
this is where this approach really delineates domesticated non-domesticated
and primates in particular are a challenge I think we all know that
there’s a whole day dedicated and it was so great to see that that had been put
together of how do we deal with the challenge that primates present us since
they’re wild animals and here’s some ideas or here’s some things that we need
to think about. Mother reared infants that’s always going to be difficult care
taken to reduce infanticide or and removing members of matriline
so if you have to remove a member of a matriline you have a juvenile you want
to bring up and you or you you have a young male you want to bring up and put
it in a lab situation well you might have problems in their social group if
you remove too many from any one matriline in infants being injured or
molested as a result of a shift in the dominance hierarchy. Group housing with
choice of social partner I think one of the challenges for primates in
particular is and I see that that’s going to be dealt with which is so
what’s so cool is how do you choose the right partner for them I mean we have
beautiful studies showing that chimpanzees are fantastic at cooperating
they can solve all these really complicated cooperative problems as long
as they’re tolerant with their partner. You can have chimpanzees that understand
everything about cooperation they understand how to solve it, that they
need somebody, that they can negotiate, they incredibly sophisticated I can turn
off their cooperation like that all I do is pair them with somebody they don’t
get along with totally falls apart in fact they might even be aggressive with
each other. So how would the scale of the problem the number of individuals we
have to take care of how can we identify and come up with a way to select the
right relationships where the the animals are happy or happy as we can
provide them with but they’re not being aggressive with each other and the staff
doesn’t go crazy dealing with the soap opera of primate life. You know
recognizing the social system and the cognitive abilities rhesus macaques know
when you’re looking at them they know what you don’t know sorry they know yeah
that’s true they know what you don’t know they don’t know that you know
something false but they know when you haven’t
means something for instance or you have seen something and they know when you’re
looking at them and of course generally rhesus are going to take that as a threat
unlike more tolerant species. So that has important implications for they need
places to hide they need small especially in small crowded enclosures
they’re gonna really need a place to get away from each other when it at all
possible and familiar caretakers if at all possible and I know that it’s really
hard because there’s turnover and staff and you know we’re talking about a very
large scale problem here but when possible you know if they know who
they’re working with it’s gonna help and integrations of new great new members
obviously you need to be carefully planned I think everybody here would
know that but it’s just to reemphasize that strangers in in the primate
world is a very very very scary thing because it often leads to death. So what
I’d like to suggest is I thought I in my career I tried very hard to think about
the 3R’s as it applied to me it ended up I had to kind of come up with my own
definition and my own approach but Tinbergen was incredibly powerful for me
in solving real world problems that people didn’t think could be solved.
Comparative psychology was declared dead. I had people tell me that I should go
into systems neuroscience and give up your dream of what you were doing
because there’s just no way forward I contest that I think we came up with
some good alternatives and that in fact our field will be healthier than ever
and it was because we didn’t give up and we thought about how our animals would
be happy and that then would turn into translating our science into real-world
solutions and I think using the 3R’s it’ll help us here – thank you very much.

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