Why The Fuck Do Baby Animals Make Us So Fucking Stupid?

Squeeeee! We’ve all done it. We have spent an entire day looking at GIF’s of baby animals falling down. We have turned down dinner plans and sexual opportunities because we were too far entrenched in the YouTube rabbit hole that follows watching a baby panda sneeze. I see a video of an adult elephant and it is beautiful, moving even, but  it won’t give me the same magical piss-my-pantsedness of seeing a baby elephant who just found a fucking ribbon!  Why the fuck do they make us so fucking stupid? The brief answer – complete nuclear level disarmament.

The “baby schema” is a group of traits, mainly huge wet shiny eyes, bulging round heads and short little squatty squishy fucking noses/snouts that we associate with adorable baby things – or things that we think are baby-like, like this fucking octopus.  

octopus


You’re an asshole, octopus. You know what you’re doing to us. This concept was introduced in the 1940’s by Austrian zoologist Konrad Lorenz who, while in many ways was a eugenics-loving-piece-of-shit, seems to have been onto something with this one. It turns out, if you’re ridiculously cute, or at least look less like a world-wearied adult, adults are far less likely to kill you and will even go to great lengths to protect you. You see, at this stage, animals are generally little more than ignorant, uncoordinated, helpless bags of joy and cartilage. Throw that into a Darwinian landscape and DEAD! Cue relentless and unquestioning parental care and suddenly the survival rate into adulthood (read: bonetown) increases as does the survival of the specie. Everyone wins!

Dr. Stephan Hamann of Emory University has been doing fMRI studies of humans in response to images with varying degree of these “baby schema” characteristics and found distinct activation in the part of the brain linked to pleasure and positive emotions, not unlike, I don’t know, HEROIN! These saucer-eyed motherfuckers are literally getting us high on their cuteness. As a result, no matter how much they shit on our carpets, destroy our still-mint condition Star Wars memorabilia, show complete disregard for personal hygiene or exude parasites from every orifice, all we can do love them.

When we study this in humans,  things start to get more than a little dark. Studies have shown that women who retain these baby-like characteristics (a trait called neoteny) are considered much more sexually attractive to men. So when you’re looking at Zooey Deschanel’s big baby blues and wondering why you feel all tingly – IT’S BECAUSE YOUR BRAIN SEES HER AS A FUCKING BABY.  As if that didn’t make you uncomfortable enough, another study found that children whose features do not as strongly fit the “baby schema” are at a statistically higher likelihood to experience abuse. Yeah, I know. Our brains are complete dicks. The same phenomenon applies to the broom-chasing versus food giving reaction to say an opossum rather than a kitten showing up on a doorstep.


So until the DEA catches on and tries to make kittens a Schedule I Drug, go ahead and use those videos as the panacea we all know them to be. Just make sure to give your love to the less adorable animals too.


Sources

Estren, M.J. (2012). The Neoteny Barrier: Seeking Respect for the Non-Cute. In Journal of Animal Ethics. 2(1). pp. 6-11.

Glocker ML, Langleben DD, Ruparel K, Loughead JW, Valdez JN, Griffin MD, Sachser N, Gur RC. “Baby schema modulates the brain reward system in nulliparous women.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences – U.S.A 2009 June 2;106(22):9115–9119.

Jones, D.; et al. (December 1995). “Sexual Selection, Physical Attractiveness, and Facial Neoteny: Cross-cultural Evidence and Implications [and Comments and Reply]”. Current Anthropology. 36 (5): 723–748. Retrieved 13 July 2017.

Schneider, Avie (10 January 2013). “Agreed, Baby Pandas Are Cute. But Why?”. National Public Radio. Retrieved 13 July 2017

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