Wolves "talk" with their eyes


I trained my dog to make eye contact – “watch me!” – and can direct her gaze (e.g. to a treat I threw) by rolling my eyes.

If she were younger and I were more persisent and had a plan, I could probably work out eye-signals.

Maybe the next dog . . .

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I think I can offer some evidence to support this theory…

Our neighbor’s dog got out and was leading him a merry chase. I came up to her and caught her eye, then looked over at their gate. She gave me a happy “You got me, pal” look and trotted right over to it.

Like most of my moments of perfect mastery, I’ve managed to avoid watering it down by trying it too often. The other time I tried, it didn’t work, but that can be attributed to the fact it would have meant the dog crossing an invisible fence (she got across it and out of her domain in the heat of seeing a deer in our yard, then couldn’t go back home until her owner came over and took the collar off).

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Although of course not all variants of homo sapiens have “highly visible eyes”, particularly those in Asia, but we still see the racist argument that the recent, local fad of “eye contact” is somehow fundamental to sociability there.

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I got a little uncomfortable too when I actually read the linked article. The focus on iris-pupil contrast seem like dangerous ground for claims of the social superiority of those with “high-contrasting” irises (i.e blue eyes) over those with “low-contrasting” (i.e brown). As usual, the hope is that news consumers, and viral news pushers have the personal responsibility to realize that even if this true, it is true in a narrow sense of being more successful for certain tasks among specific species facing specific conditions. I’m sure that “social behaviors” has very specific meaning for these researchers, but it is just the kind of language that could be used for some pseudo-scientific-pop-journo-virality a-la “Are people with blue eyes more sociable? These scientists say yes!”

I swear I did read “Women talk with their eyes” and I thought “Well, that makes sense!”

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