If you are an alien and you come to earth you will have a fresh a fresh perspective about the things that happen on earth. To understand what I mean I suggest you watch the movie “Mating Habits of Earthbound humans” and “God Must be Crazy”. Let me come to the point quickly. We humans find some things very beautiful and something gross. A slander woman with large boobs is sexy but a female with facial hair is gross. However if an alien comes from some distant planet where all women have facial hair they will look at earth females in a completely opposite way. So when we say something is cute of beautiful it is nothing but our own perceptive. There is no such things as beautiful and ugly in this world that kind of classification lies in our brain.
Now the question comes. Why do we find certain things cute ? What makes our brain classify things as cute and gross? In this particular blog post I will limit myself with only “human babies”.
Why do we find human babies so cute ?
The question came up while having a discussion with a friend and he came up with a theory. In an extreme con-incidence I came across a book “How many friends do you need?”. The book had a chapter dedicated the the exact same question and it actually confirmed our hypothesis.
It seems that brain tissue is one tissue in the body which both expensive and slow to grow. So the amount of time an offspring spends in mother’s womb is directly proportional to the size of the brain of that species (mammals). Humans as we know have the largest brain and hence by the above logic human baby should be in mother’s womb for about 21 months. Yeah that is right. Once upon a time that was indeed the case. With that much grown baby, and head being the most difficult part to come out during delivery either the mother or the child use to die. So it was a very difficult affair for all the concerned people. Also, human beings had learned to walk on two legs instead of all four by that time which mean our lower backs were very weak and pelvic area had a different shape than other mamals. While weak backs made it difficult to deliver a baby, the shape of our pelvic made it easier for the baby’s brain to grow.
Evolution solves the problem by survival of the fittest rule. Nature could have either made our lower backs much stronger or made our brains smaller. But it did not do both. That is because stronger lower back would have made them inflexible making it difficult to run and throw a spear and other activities. Smaller brains would have made us dumb and the rapid climate change that was happening during that time would have made us extinct. So it chose the third option. That is to deliver the baby prematurely.
Human babies are born premature. That too by almost 12 months. That is why despite all medical developments humans have such a very high infant mortality.
What has premature delivery go to do with cuteness of the baby you may ask. Most certainly it does.
Imagine a world 1 million years ago. A baby is born and the mother is still recovering. The tribe still needs to hunt for food and vulnerable mother and child need protection. The father of the child alone can not do it. Every other human in the tribe needs to help this new baby to grow stronger. The baby needs extreme care. So that can only happen when all the members of the tribe build some kind of bond with their child and feel like helping. That is why nature modified our brains such that we find all babies cute and feel like helping them. If that was not the case no other members of the tribe would have helped the mother and child.
Also, there was no concept of marriage at that time. Men mated with any woman they had access to. So when the baby is born the man standing next may not be the real father of that kid. So not only he should find the baby cute but the baby should not have any features that might indicate who fathered that child. For example if the child had features of some other man in the tribe that could have created problems for the mother and child. Hence nature also makes human babies completely agnostic to their parent’s features. It is only after year or so the baby starts showing the traits of the parents.
It seems psychologically mother always finds the new born baby similar to her current partner and immediately after birth she tries to say that a number of times to her current partner.
The science behind things is so fascinating.