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6 March 2014 1:04 pm ,
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Magdalena Koziol, a former postdoc at Yale University, was the victim of scientific sabotage. Now, she is suing the...
Antiretroviral drugs can protect people from becoming infected by HIV. But so-called pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP...
Two studies show that eating a diet low in protein and high in carbohydrates is linked to a longer, healthier life, and...
Considered an icon of conservation science, researchers at World Wildlife Fund (WWF) headquarters in Washington, D.C.,...
The new atlas, which shows the distribution of important trace metals and other substances, is the first product of...
Early in April, the first of a fleet of environmental monitoring satellites will lift off from Europe's spaceport in...
Since 2000, U.S. government health research agencies have spent almost $1 billion on an effort to churn out thousands...
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ScienceShot: Deciphering a Dog’s Yawn
7 August 2013 5:00 pm
Observant dog owners know that if they yawn, their dog is likely to do the same. It’s called contagious yawning, and it’s something that we do with one another, too. Evolutionary biologists say that we yawn when we see someone else doing so because of our capacity for empathy. But some studies have suggested that dogs yawn not because they’re feeling empathetic, but because they’re mildly stressed. Now, a team of scientists in Japan has tackled the question again. In a study reported online today in PLOS ONE, the scientists filmed 25 dogs of various breeds as they observed their owners and strangers either yawning or making other mouth movements; they also monitored the dogs’ heart rates throughout the experiment. All the canines responded more to their owners’ genuine yawns than to those of strangers, as the poodle, Kikumaru, is doing above. And none of them had a change in their heartbeats, making it unlikely that their yawns are due to stress. The team concludes that contagious yawning in dogs is emotionally similar to that in humans. And that means, as most dog owners would surely attest, that Fido has some form of rudimentary empathy. Perhaps the next question is, how empathetic are we with other species: Do we yawn when our dog yawns?