I want to thank Gem State Writers for inviting me to blog with them and tell you a little about myself. I was born and raised in the city, but I’m a country girl at heart. I married a rodeo cowboy and have spent most of my life training and competing on barrel racing horses.
We’ve also raised registered Quarter horses, Cocker Spaniels and Munchkin cats and three children. One of the most enjoyable things about raising animals and children is they are so darnn cute. Whether it’s a kitten, colt or baby, watching them play will bring a smile to your face.
Which brings to mind the question as to why we often view babies as more appealing than their adult versions? One hypothesis is that they are adorably disproportionate. A puppy has huge paws and ears that are way too big for his body. The baby monkey, kitten or person’s eyes are huge for its face and convey innocence. A fawn or colt’s legs are much too long, and they stagger around as if they were on stilts.
Biologist Michael C. LaBarbera of the University of Chicago says all mammals have inherited the ability to recognize their young’s special features. Some species, including humans, take this recognition to the next step. Koko the gorilla adopted a kitten and, just a few years ago, a female gorilla at Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo protected a child that had fallen into the gorilla exhibit. They not only recognized their own young but that of another species.
An interesting article by Steve Gould, a geology professor at Harvard University, touches on this in one of his more famous essays, “A biological homage to Mickey Mouse”. Gould noted that during the fifty years since Mickey’s creation, his image has evolved from a rather unsavory rodent into a squat creature with a large round head, big eyes, and short limbs. Mickey now resembles the baby animals we love so much.
Whether parents are born with this aesthetic sense or have genes that tell us to favor whatever features appear in our offspring hasn’t been determined. One way or the other, we have developed the ability to recognize and protect our young.
What makes me think of this question at this time? Sawyer Michael was born on September 13, 2012 with an adorable round head, large eyes and a precious personality. And I’m not just saying that because he’s my grandson.