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What makes kittens and puppies so adorable revealed

Updated: 2015-09-23
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Experts at How It Works magazine said there are certain features that many baby mammals have in common and these are the triggers that make them cute. Known as 'baby schema', they include big eyes, large heads, chubby bodies and soft textures (pictured)
   
It's impossible to resist the large eyes, adorable expressions and fluffy fur of kittens, puppies, leaping lambs in spring and even baby penguins. 
 
But what is it about these young animals that make our hearts melt? 
  
How It Works magazine has studied the science behind cute animal faces and revealed their allure is down to our evolutionary need to take care of and protect our own children.

There are certain features that many baby mammals have in common and these are the triggers that make them appear cute. 
 
Known as 'baby schema', these include big eyes, large heads, chubby bodies and soft textures. 
 
Babies have these traits, as do puppies, but so do other inanimate objects that are less obvious.
 
For example, BMW designed the Mini Cooper to have large, rounded headlights that mimic a pair of 'eyes'.
 
When we see something we find cute, it stimulates an area in our mid-brains known as the mesocorticolimbic system. 
 
This is the part of the brain associated with the processes of motivation. 
 
When we look at a baby, our brains recognise the features that make us relate to our own young, as outlined in baby schema, and this causes a surge of the neurotransmitter dopamine. 
 
This chemical is also involved when we fall in love, and it is an enjoyable feeling. 
 
Our brains commit that rewarding feeling to memory, letting us know to do it again, and the emotional response triggered by the cuteness also stimulates the motivation to care for the animal. 
 
This reaction is so ingrained in our brains that it can be triggered by other things, such as a cute insect, or even inanimate objects with certain features that trigger our 'cute' response. 
 
In the animal kingdom there are some animals that, once born, have to look after themselves almost immediately. 
 
Most insects, reptiles and fish do this, for example, and generally these types of creatures are notoriously 'not cute'. 
 
Although they may have some redeeming features, the features the baby schema denotes as 'classically adorable' are largely missing from their profiles. 
 
When we see something we find cute, it stimulates an area in our mid-brains known as the mesocorticolimbic system. This is the part of the brain associated with motivation and reward. When we look at a baby or toddler (pictured), our brains recognise the features and this causes a surge of the neurotransmitter dopamine 


These chemicals also play a key part in social interaction and intimacy, in particular how we bond with other humans. The bond that a mother shares with her baby needs to be strong so the mother will protect her offspring no matter what. This kind of empathy also enables us to form attachments to our pets (pictured)
    
Many other species have an entirely different upbringing where they need nurturing and protecting while they grow - much like our own parental care. 
 
How It Works editor Jodie Tyley said it is no coincidence then that we consider these creatures as much cuter than the others.

'The nature of mammals means that animals are born with plenty of growing left to do,' she wrote. 
 
'Their features are rounder, noses and snouts are stubbier and there's often a thick layer of baby fat to help cut an even more rotund silhouette. 
 
'As they slowly grow up, these features elongate and exaggerate and their 'cuteness' fades.' 
 
While a baby horse can stand up within minutes of being born, it takes a human months to even support its own neck. 
 
'This is why our kids need to be cute and why we need to find them cute,' continued Ms Tyley. 
 
The same is true for the animal kingdom - both humans and animals need to care for their offspring in order to prolong the existence of their species. 
 
The release of neurotransmitters dopamine and oxytocin are also associated with the 'reward' pathway in our brains. 
 
This means they play a key part in social interaction and intimacy, in particular how we bond with other humans. 
  
In addition to cute faces flooding our brains with feel-good chemicals, many people look at images of baby animals (pictured) and have the urge to bite them. This is called cuteness aggression and is a common phenomenon caused when the brain attempts to overcompensate for the rush of chemicals 


A recent study found that humans are hardwired to prefer cute faces, and this preference begins from the age of three. Even before they start school, children rate puppies, kittens and babies as 'cuter' than their adult counterparts, according to a recent study (images used in the study are pictured)
   
The bond that a mother shares with her baby needs to be strong so the mother will protect her offspring no matter what. 
 
This kind of empathy also enables us to form attachments to our pets. 
 
As mammals, we have an innate desire to care for our babies. 
 
Yet the primal instinct to care isn't always expressed through having our own children. 
 
Keeping pets is a good example of this - we empathise with these animals, triggered by the cute response in the brain, and feel the need to care for and nurture them, sometimes as if they were our own children. 
 
Other animals also exhibit this kind of behaviour. 
 
There are many stories of unlikely animal companions that have come together, usually when a mother takes on the care of a more helpless creature. 
  
YouTube is full of videos featuring monkeys looking after puppies and kittens, for example. 
 
There have even been reported cases of inter-species primate adoption in the wild such as the story of a marmoset found living with a group of larger capuchin monkeys. 
 
And there are some species for which the maternal instinct means that if they lose their own baby, they will adopt another. 
 
This has been seen in mammals and birds such as seals and penguins. 
 
The mothering instinct can be so strong that females that have never given birth will foster the young of another individual and care for them, known as 'allomothering.' 
 
There are some species for which the maternal instinct means that if they lose their own baby, they will adopt another. This has been seen in mammals and birds such as seals and penguins. The mothering instinct can be so strong that females that have never given birth will foster the young of another individual and care for them


In addition to cute faces flooding our brains with feel-good chemicals, many people will look at images of baby animals and have the urge to bite them. This is called cuteness aggression and is a common phenomenon caused when the brain attempts to overcompensate for the rush of chemicals. Prince George is pictured
   
Even toddlers can recognise 'cuter' faces, according to a recent study by the University of Lincoln. 
 
The researchers manipulated images of faces and analysed the response of children aged between three and six. 
 
In addition to cute faces flooding our brains with feel-good chemicals, many people will look at images of baby animals and have the urge to bite them. 
 
This is called cuteness aggression and is a common phenomenon caused when the brain attempts to overcompensate for the rush of chemicals. 
 
Earlier this month, scientists on Twitter took part in a 'cute off' in which they posted images of cute animals they work with in various scientific fields. 
 
This included salamander lizards, tiny frogs and bee flies among others, proving it's not just mammals that look cute.

SOURCE:
dailymail.co.uk
 
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Comments Area ( Total Comments: 1 )
Sagan commented on 24 Sep 2015
Aw, so cute!!!