Lay summary; paper: both behind the Science paywall] It is a fact know to all dog owners that their mutts are more loyal, more honest, better company and cheaper to feed than any human partner. The Azabu U team have measured the concentration of urinary oxytocin before and after a bonding session between owner and hound. They have also administered extra oxytocin to the dogs to see how this affected the behaviour and oxytocin levels of their human companion. As a further control they have done similar parallel experiments on owners and wolves raised from puppy. Wolves don't get it! They can't follow human eye direction to solve problems or act helpful. Also their oxytocin levels don't change when their owners gaze lovingly at them and they don't gaze back. As a pet, they are about as responsive as a boa constrictor and require a lot more feeding. So the working domestication hypothesis is that in the process of evolving from a top carnivore and competitor to a valued member of the human pack, the oxytocin/gazing pathway has evolved to mimic and hijack the human feedback loop. That could be neat.
It's the sort of paper that gets privileged at the editorial board meetings that happen every week in Nature and Science. Publishing papers that are going to shift ground in one or another field of science is the top priority at these premier general science journals. But the journals also have to have some material that will be readable by everyone. So sexy papers whose impact is obvious to all thinking people and which can be summarised in a press release that will be picked up by The Times (of London, of India, NYT) are less likely to finish up on the cutting-room floor. The press releaase was indeed picked up everywhere: BBC; IFLS; HuffPo; NatGeog etc. But sometimes the desire to publish 'sexy' induces a collective madness in the editorial board and they push out something all-levels bonkers like idea that arsenic replaces phosphorous in the backbone of DNA of certain bacteria. I think this puppy-dog tale may be a case in point. Not least because the substance of the paper [it's the oxytocin-gaze loop, stupid] was published years ago in Hormones and Behaviour by the same group.
A couple of things give me