With more than 1,000 animals on 20 acres, the Turtle Back Zoo is packed with species that make us squeal, and it turns out, they have something in common… "Big eyes, some pudginess, shuffling, or moving in some kind of awkward, loping, manner. Anything that falls over a lot we tend to find adorable," said Nina Fefferman… Case in point: This red panda with its bright eyes, small face and soft coat. Fefferman, an evolutionary biology professor at Rutgers, says those are all examples of "signaling" – what an animal’s look conveys to others…. When we can read an animal’s expression, we feel more comfortable, which makes it a winning trait for cuteness. For example, think of a family dog… "You can tell when a dog is happy; tail position, ear position, facial muscle position. It’s eliciting food, it’s eliciting love, it’s eliciting care. All of those things we’ve bred it to do that we find endearing," Fefferman said.
/ / / The Science Behind What We Find Cute