Last night I was admiring Ice-Bat, Meg’s Ugly Doll, and he (Meg says Ice-Bat is a she, but even though it lacks genitalia, I say it’s a he) reminded me of a NYTimes article I once read about the scientific explanation for “cute.”
Scientists who study the evolution of visual signaling have identified a wide and still expanding assortment of features and behaviors that make something look cute: bright forward-facing eyes set low on a big round face, a pair of big round ears, floppy limbs and a side-to-side, teeter-totter gait, among many others.
Cute cues are those that indicate extreme youth, vulnerability, harmlessness and need, scientists say, and attending to them closely makes good Darwinian sense. As a species whose youngest members are so pathetically helpless they can’t lift their heads to suckle without adult supervision, human beings must be wired to respond quickly and gamely to any and all signs of infantile desire.
And so, here are a few scientific reasons why Ice-Bat is so darned cute:
Yeah, I know that was a crappy graphic. I’m away from Photoshop at the moment, and I couldn’t stand the crappy graphic any longer, so I put up a scan straight from the sketchbook. The infographic that ran with the article was pretty crappy, too.