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Murray Edwards College
University of Cambridge

School Winner: Why do we find pandas so cute?

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    23 Feb

    Science fact

    Elephants rarely get cancer: less than 5% of captive elephants die of cancer, compared to 20% of humans. Elephant genomes have at least 20 copies of the tumour suppressor, p53, which may explain their low cancer rates relative to humans, who have only one copy. 

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    aisha-azad-quintin-kynaston17c-aisha-azad-croppedSchoolSo why do we, the human race, adore these loveable creatures? If you don't then you're not human, seriously if you find pandas ugly there is something wrong. A behavioural neuroscientist called Edgar E. Coons thinks that humans find pandas so cute because of the "hedonic mechanisms" their features set off in us. They remind us of babies especially with their big eyes (the eyes are not that particularly big but the black patches around their eyes make them appear larger) round faces, snub noses and large heads (a large head and tiny body is much cuter than a tiny head and large body (like rats). Also the fact that they are extremely large and fluffy reminds us of a cuddly toy. The way giant pandas tumble about reminds us of toddlers even though they are slightly larger than most toddlers (well, at least out of the ones I've met). Also it is pretty hilarious watching a panda try to walk, they look so funny waddling around. This video alone is enough evidence how funny pandas are when they walk. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ry4jqkO5Drk Moving on to the real scientific reason as to why we find pandas cute.

    It's all to do with our brain making us feel a certain love towards pandas.

    "According to Hamann, increased activity in the middle orbital cortex is usually associated with pleasure and positive emotion. Some evidence suggests the brain activity there is greater when the stimulus is 'neotenous,' which is to say it has juvenile characteristics — a button nose, big eyes, a large wobbly head, chubby extremities or pudgy cheeks." - an article from the Washington Post where they asked Stephan Hamann, a psychology professor at Emory University, to explain why people find certain animals are cute. “Konrad Lorenz, an Austrian zoologist who shared a Nobel Prize in 1973, was the first of many researchers to conclude that cuteness, or "baby schema," is an evolutionary adaptation that triggers nurturing responses from adults -- allowing survival of the cutest, in Darwinian terms.” - another section from the Washington Post Article in 2005. Aisha Quintin Kynaston I'm Aisha and I'm in Year 11. I'm currently doing my GCSEs in English, Maths, Triple Science and History. I did my French and Textles GCSE last year. I'm interested in pursuing a career in forensic science.