New research suggests that loving an animal is actually because of inheritance. Those who are not interested in animal keeping also get this characteristic from their genes. Genetics help to explain why people either love or hate animals.
Authors: Azka Abid , Sobia Gullraiz
Genetics department of Kinnaird College for Women Lahore
The people living in Britain are mostly pet lovers. There are half of all the population having at least one pet. People mostly prefer to keep dogs and cats at home. One theory explains that the habit of pet keeping is inherited from families. Parents who own pets sway their children to have pets.
Recent research estimate that there is a genetic basis for pet keeping. Some groups in the past would have relied on their relationship with animals to prosper. Wild animals were domesticated and in the late Paleolithic and Neolithic periods breeding of livestock began.
Bradshaw suggested that the same genes which lay open today predict that some people’s interest of pet-keeping would have come from early farmers as they brought wild animals in human habitation, and gave them a heightened social status.
Current animal lovers are perhaps successor of these people. Some communities that had no sympathy for animals or were not involved in livestock farming were forced to rely on hunting. These communities later took the livestock and enslave the animal well-being.
So the psychological or empathetic relation between animal and human did not occur. People indifferent to animals today may have inherited genes from them.
Millions of people prefer to keep cats as pets. Cats have a mutualistic or commensal relationship with humans. Almost about 80 million years ago cats and humans have evolutionarily divided from a common ancestor which was (boreoeutherian ancestor), with only 10–12 chromosomal translocations.
In cats the order of genes on chromosomes X and Y chromosomes closely resembles with that in humans. The order of eight genes on the cats’ Y chromosome and genes on X chromosomes of cats and humans are arranged in similar way and are identical. 250 hereditary disorders are found similar to those in humans and household cats, such as diabetes, hemophilia and Tay–Sachs disease.
For example, Abyssinian cats have a genetic mutation that causes retinitis pigmentosa which also affects humans. The domestic cat is an outstanding representation for human infectious diseases including HIV/AIDS. Genetic relative of HIV is Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) which is found in both cats and humans.
The scientists created computer models to determine patterns among the twins to represent genetic impact or environmental effects on lifelong affection for dogs. Researchers found that genetics was more involved of dog ownership in adulthood than environment. Genetic contribution to dog ownership was summed to about 51% in men and around 57% in women.
Animal Loving Explanation
Scientists use twins to study and explain the effects of environment and genetics on behavior. Identical twins have the same genetic makeup, whereas in non-identical twins only 50% of their genomes are similar.
Using statistical equipment’s, the researchers examined the data to evaluate the range to which genetics, shared environment, and non-shared environment may have contributed to dog ownership.
They found that twins who both owned dogs in adulthood were more likely to be identical than non-identical, proving that genetics was indeed a strong factor in dog ownership.
The conclusions drawn could also mean that genetic makeup may have played a vital role in modification of human beings’ ability to domesticate dogs and other animals. In addition, they suggest researchers to contemplate genetic variation as a factor when examining the effect of pet ownership on human health.
There have been many assertions that owning a pet is good for your health, with studies showing that dogs and cats can lower blood pressure and improve quality of life. Pet ownership is likely genetic, ranging back as far as when animals were first domesticated hundreds of thousands of years ago.
Hunter-gatherers who found that domesticating animals was beneficial to survival laid the foundation for a symbiotic relationship between dogs and humans. Those people who “couldn’t care less” about owning a pet may have inherited genes from groups who were not dependent on animals or didn’t need to form any bonds or relationships with animals to thrive.