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There has been quite a bit of hype about the ugliest animal in the world. Known as the Blobfish (Psychrolutes marcidus), its existence had gone viral, with its picture appearing on news sites and social media. It is definitely not the only animal that people find “ugly”, but it looked right for the job of mascot of the Ugly Animal Preservation Society.
Many sources took the resulting vote and title at face value – the Blobfish was voted as the mascot, and is labelled the ugliest animal to represent the lot, The End. I, however, believe there is an underlining reason to the Blobfish’s new-found title that is missed by many.
These were all the 11 candidates in total, each ugly in their own right, but why did the Blobfish get the most votes. This is where it gets interesting.
If we were to compare all the animals side by side, one thing that makes the Blobfish stand out is it’s noticeable “human” expression – a frown.
No other animal in the list delivers the feeling of “I’m ugly and I’m sad” like the Blobfish. The Titicaca Frog and Axoloti also gave an expression that we are familiar with – a smile.
When choosing a mascot, we will choose one that not only represents the lot well, but also one that we can best relate to. This gives the Blobfish, Titicaca Frog, Axoloti, and Proboscis Monkey an advantage over the other candidates – and the results support that statement, with the Top 5 candidates consisting of all the 4 mentioned and the Kakapo Bird.
But that is not the only key factor.
Depending on your opinion, some, if not all of the top 5 candidates can be seen as cute. But what is cute? Well, by definition, cuteness is something that is attractive, especially in a dainty way and pleasingly pretty. In reality, the feeling of saying “awww~ its so cute!” when we see something “cute” is due to the appearance of things in relation to our offspring – in other words, babies.
In a paper by Gary Genosko titled Natures and Cultures of Cuteness, it was concluded that based on the appearance of human babies, we usually consider things are cute when they have small body size with disproportionately large head, large eyes, and soft body features. (of course the list of considerations is longer and can be found in the earlier link) When looking at babies, we immediately have this instinctive feeling to protect and nurture them, a natural effect that is more than helpful during our time before civilisation. But such an effect can also be triggered by things that are not human but fit our psychological definition of cute. Check out this video by Michael from Vsauce on why are things cute?
This brings us back to the Blobfish, which among all of the candidates, is arguably the cutest. The Blobfish’s appearance can also be easily interpreted as a sad frowning “human” face with 2 eyes and a large nose. All these features makes the Blobfish the most likely to win the “hearts” of the 3000+ people who voted.
And with 795 votes (more than 25% of the total votes), it does seem that cuteness reigns supreme. So Blobfish, turn that frown upside down, it ain’t all bad.
Do check out the cause of the Ugly Animal Preservation Society, for they didn’t just do this for fun and games, there is a real legitimate reason to fight for attention for nature’s less pretty endangered species.
Support them by liking the Ugly Animal Preservation Society Facebook Page.