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View Full Version : Would we find alien babies cute?



Indagare
2014-Jun-29, 01:52 PM
So I was reading about the movie 'Earth to Echo' (http://news.yahoo.com/earth-echo-could-extraterrestrial-life-cute-124716938.html) which discussed having cute aliens. Though there have been other movies with cute or attractive (to humans) aliens in them, I was wondering if this would be likely.

On the one hand, it seems probable. There seems to be good evidence that things look cute in order to ensure they're taken care of until they can take care of themselves. If aliens have a similar nurturing nature, then it's likely their babies will be cute and they'd likely find the same features cute for the same reason humans do (http://www.stuffyoushouldknow.com/blog/babies-cute-explained/).

On the other hand, for most non-human animals the cuteness factor seems to be relegated to their own species. It's a little hard to tell if a dog finds a kitten cute. Certainly there are instances of mammals taking care of other baby mammals, but I'm not sure what goes into that entirely. Also, while it seems like the same set of features makes something cute, I'm not sure if this would be universal or not.

Noclevername
2014-Jun-29, 02:33 PM
Aww, who's a cute widdle maggot, you are, yes you are!

99%* of Earth's animal life does not have cute offspring.


* Not a real statistic.

DaveC426913
2014-Jun-29, 04:04 PM
On the other hand, for most non-human animals the cuteness factor seems to be relegated to their own species. It's a little hard to tell if a dog finds a kitten cute. Certainly there are instances of mammals taking care of other baby mammals, but I'm not sure what goes into that entirely. Also, while it seems like the same set of features makes something cute, I'm not sure if this would be universal or not.

Not really about cute, but dogs and cats, both being mammals, have non-visual cues that trigger nurturing: high-pitched mewling, and diminutive size, are very common triggers of nurturing behevior.

It works on humans too.

John Mendenhall
2014-Jun-29, 04:31 PM
I thought the face hugger in in Alien was cute. But the chest burstter was cuter.

Barabino
2014-Jun-29, 04:59 PM
I suppose they are as cute as most invertebrates do :-/

I've noticed that pre-teen females are obsessed with cute horses and ponies, and pre-teen males are obsessed with un-cute aliens and monsters :-/

I remember, as a pre-teen, watching myself in the mirror, and asking myself why I was a boring human instead of an interesting squid... :D

Mercurio Rivera writes science-fiction stories about that... about preteens with alien friends (the "Wergens")... :-/

For some reason, all Wergens find humans irresestibly cute, but after alien puberty, aliens of the opposite sex become much more interesting for aliens...:D

http://www.mercuriorivera.com

ravens_cry
2014-Jun-29, 07:15 PM
It makes some sense. Humans retain a lot of natal features late in life, with minimal brow ridges, small teeth, weak chins, and large heads.

Spacedude
2014-Jun-29, 09:46 PM
Would we find alien babies cute?
Only if adult aliens find human babies cute.....and they may want to wait a few days post birthing ;)

Noclevername
2014-Jun-30, 12:17 AM
"Earthling babies are born adorable, all slimy and wrinkled, but then they dry off, they stop secreting goo, and their skin smoothes over! Ewww."

Solfe
2014-Jun-30, 12:19 AM
Nurse: Aw, you have a cute baby!
Mom: You're just saying that.
Nurse: No, when people have an ugly baby, I say "Aw, you had a baby!"

WayneFrancis
2014-Jun-30, 02:57 AM
The reasons we find babies cute is evolutionary and it is older then humans, great apes, or even other primates. It goes much further back in our evolutionary history. It is due to common traits that have been pass down through generations and through many changes of species. An alien would probably look so different it would not trigger those same hard wired responses for paternal care. Yes there are documented cases of predators caring for young of prey like the leopard that was observed to care for a baby baboon until the baby died and even after from memory. That is because the traits that the leopard found compelling to nurture the baby baboon developed in a common ancestor.

Barabino
2014-Jun-30, 07:24 AM
yes, that is the correct evolutionary answer... signs of alien cuteness might be a big red mouth... (ok, maybe not red at all)

http://www.bitrebels.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Baby-Birds-Dinner-Time-1.jpg

primummobile
2014-Jun-30, 09:13 AM
The reasons we find babies cute is evolutionary and it is older then humans, great apes, or even other primates. It goes much further back in our evolutionary history. It is due to common traits that have been pass down through generations and through many changes of species. An alien would probably look so different it would not trigger those same hard wired responses for paternal care. Yes there are documented cases of predators caring for young of prey like the leopard that was observed to care for a baby baboon until the baby died and even after from memory. That is because the traits that the leopard found compelling to nurture the baby baboon developed in a common ancestor.

Yes. We find "cute" the traits that other baby animals share with human babies. That includes both physical and behavioral traits. We are hardwired to find our own babies cute because they are so helpless compared to the young of most other animals.
http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-28036667

iquestor
2014-Jun-30, 10:40 AM
I would think probably not, or if so, a fluke. Alien physiology would very likely be so different from what we are used to that it wouldn't register. more likely, emotions like fear, revulsion, or curiosity would be the first impressions.

Swift
2014-Jun-30, 07:20 PM
My namesake modestly proposes that alien babies are particularly cute served with a side of spring peas and a nice merlot. :D

WayneFrancis
2014-Jul-01, 02:16 AM
My namesake modestly proposes that alien babies are particularly cute served with a side of spring peas and a nice merlot. :D

Probably wouldn't do much good for us to eat them either. Odds are they wouldn't be nourishing for us unless they use similar genetic code. Really hard to say...I don't think I'd be in line to try to taste one for a multitude of reasons.

SkepticJ
2014-Jul-01, 05:04 AM
Humans don't reliably agree on what is cute or not. It's somewhat subjective.

Is a frog cute? I think so. A baby alligator? Yep. A gecko? Ditto. A mantis? You bet your abdomen. Hundreds of millions of people would disagree with me.

SkepticJ
2014-Jul-01, 05:05 AM
Humans don't reliably agree on what is cute or not. It's somewhat subjective.

Is a frog cute? I think so. A baby alligator? Yep. A gecko? Ditto. A mantis? You bet your abdomen. Hundreds of millions of people would disagree with me.

Noclevername
2014-Jul-01, 05:48 AM
Probably wouldn't do much good for us to eat them either. Odds are they wouldn't be nourishing for us unless they use similar genetic code. Really hard to say...I don't think I'd be in line to try to taste one for a multitude of reasons.

To eat each other, we'd need similar amino acids, not necessarily a similar genetic code.

primummobile
2014-Jul-01, 09:04 AM
Humans don't reliably agree on what is cute or not. It's somewhat subjective.

Is a frog cute? I think so. A baby alligator? Yep. A gecko? Ditto. A mantis? You bet your abdomen. Hundreds of millions of people would disagree with me.

Cute is subjective. But, like beauty, there are qualities a majority of people look for. I think baby reptiles are cute too. But not cuddly cute like baby mammals. I had a ball python that, as a baby, liked to curl up on my stomach under my shirt. But she was doing it for the warmth, not because she wanted to be cuddly.

Chuck
2014-Jul-02, 07:04 PM
Do Fred Saberhagen's Berserker robots think our computers are cute?

FarmMarsNow
2014-Jul-06, 02:40 PM
Cuteness of alien offspring is related to the alcohol content in the blood of the human observers.

DonM435
2014-Jul-07, 01:48 AM
Now, you tell me that this baby bat isn't as cute as can be.

http://i32.photobucket.com/albums/d3/DJMan435/10300247_10151932382796599_4269423812995742533_n_z psb794dda0.jpg

Noclevername
2014-Jul-07, 07:03 AM
Now, you tell me that this baby bat isn't as cute as can be.

http://i32.photobucket.com/albums/d3/DJMan435/10300247_10151932382796599_4269423812995742533_n_z psb794dda0.jpg

A mammal, from Earth, sharing common ancestry with humans. Not at all alien.

Hlafordlaes
2014-Jul-07, 10:58 AM
No, unless under one potential and very iffy scenario.

Given the capacity for some microbes to survive in space rocks for long periods, ejecta from one system may impact planets in another system due to galactic rotation. Speculatively, this might create a band of genetically-related inhabited planets coinciding with Earth's orbit around the galactic center. Add convergent evolution, and humanoid or mammalian analogs don't seem completely impossible. In that case, we could share baby pictures. That is, unless their version of velociraptor developed opposable thumbs and is their reigning alpha species.

Strange
2014-Jul-07, 11:03 AM
Interesting question.


99%* of Earth's animal life does not have cute offspring.

"Baby" dragonflies (larvae) are horrific. They look a bit like aliens...

Noclevername
2014-Jul-07, 11:15 AM
No, unless under one potential and very iffy scenario.

Given the capacity for some microbes to survive in space rocks for long periods, ejecta from one system may impact planets in another system due to galactic rotation. Speculatively, this might create a band of genetically-related inhabited planets coinciding with Earth's orbit around the galactic center. Add convergent evolution, and humanoid or mammalian analogs don't seem completely impossible. In that case, we could share baby pictures. That is, unless their version of velociraptor developed opposable thumbs and is their reigning alpha species.

I would say genetic relation and parallel evolution don't necessarily have to go together. Most of our genetic relatives are non-mammalian non-humanoids, and a potential bipedal tetrapod could possibly evolve from an animal-analog (though I don't think it likely).

That doesn't have anything to do with cuteness, though. Human-baby-like proportions and perceived harmlessness are what make a creature "cute" to most people.

Hlafordlaes
2014-Jul-07, 11:39 AM
I would say genetic relation and parallel evolution don't necessarily have to go together. Most of our genetic relatives are non-mammalian non-humanoids, and a potential bipedal tetrapod could possibly evolve from an animal-analog (though I don't think it likely).

That doesn't have anything to do with cuteness, though. Human-baby-like proportions and perceived harmlessness are what make a creature "cute" to most people.

Iffy, as I said, but there are plenty of examples of convergent evolution producing similar solutions. Four or two legs are more common, eyes, etc. There is no direction to evolution, but it does tend to reinvent a number of 'wheels' owing to common restraints and potentials.

Only scenario I can think of that has real potential for mutual appreciation of 'cuteness' across worlds; i.e., by assuming rough morphological similarity. Far-fetched, and possible if and only if shared base DNA is in play.

Noclevername
2014-Jul-07, 11:53 AM
Iffy, as I said, but there are plenty of examples of convergent evolution producing similar solutions. Four or two legs are more common, eyes, etc. There is no direction to evolution, but it does tend to reinvent a number of 'wheels' owing to common restraints and potentials.

More common? There are far more multi-legged arthropod species than tetrapods. There are far more eyeless worms than species with eyes.


Only scenario I can think of that has real potential for mutual appreciation of 'cuteness' across worlds; i.e., by assuming rough morphological similarity. Far-fetched, and possible if and only if shared base DNA is in play.

Why would you think shared DNA leads to, or is necessary for, morphological similarity? As I said, Earth life shares most of the same DNA and we aren't remotely similar in form, except for those few close relatives who share recent common ancestry. I can't imagine extremophile microbes that could survive lithopanspermia leading to similar body plan, let alone similar patterns of neotony.

Hlafordlaes
2014-Jul-07, 12:23 PM
Why would you think shared DNA leads to, or is necessary for, morphological similarity?


From the wiki on convergent evolution - In morphology, analogous traits will often arise where different species live in similar ways and/or similar environment, and so face the same environmental factors. When occupying similar ecological niches (that is, a distinctive way of life) similar problems lead to similar solutions. In biochemistry, physical and chemical constraints on mechanisms cause some active site arrangements to independently evolve multiple times in separate enzyme superfamilies (for example, see also catalytic triad).

So what is posited is that a shared base DNA may respond in similar ways to analogous environments, as it has been shown to do on Earth.


As I said, Earth life shares most of the same DNA and we aren't remotely similar in form, except for those few close relatives who share recent common ancestry. I can't imagine extremophile microbes that could survive lithopanspermia leading to similar body plan, let alone similar patterns of neotony.

Here you compare across species on the same planet, so of course the result is a wide range of forms (yet with some common solutions). The full set of species on another planet using the same base DNA may generate organisms that are similar to many of the life forms here, as life has to 'solve' the same engineering problems everywhere. Evolution often comes up with similar solutions; that is all I argue, not that there must be a human or mammalian analog we might find cute, only that there could be.

Noclevername
2014-Jul-07, 12:27 PM
So what is posited is that a shared base DNA may respond in similar ways to analogous environments, as it has been shown to do on Earth.

I still do not understand why similar base DNA is needed for this.



Here you compare across species on the same planet, so of course the result is a wide range of forms (yet with some common solutions). The full set of species on another planet using the same base DNA may generate organisms that are similar to many of the life forms here, as life has to 'solve' the same engineering problems everywhere. Evolution often comes up with similar solutions; that is all I argue, not that there must be a human or mammalian analog we might find cute, only that there could be.

Again, I fail to understand why the same DNA is needed, when as you say the same problems are present requiring physiological solutions. That to me sounds like saying that Legos and Tinkertoys cannot form similar cubic shapes.

Hlafordlaes
2014-Jul-07, 01:49 PM
I am allowing for the fact that perhaps life would have a radically different evolutionary trajectory if not from a similar molecule, although I suspect convergence could indeed be possible even among wildly varying base molecular foundations, given similar engineering challenges. I am merely positing that shared DNA would be more credibly enabling of morphological convergence.

For example, we might yet see some local examples of convergence if and when possible life forms in, say, the oceans of Europa are examined, present there based on the exchange of ejecta in the early solar system. I would not be surprised to find fins, bioluminescence, or tentacles, for example.

Remember, I am just trying to figure out a far-fetched yet remotely possible scenario that would allow admiration of traded baby pictures; that's the context. This is in keeping with the highly speculative nature of posts in LiS.

primummobile
2014-Jul-07, 05:13 PM
Why would another life form need to even use DNA as an information carrier in order for evolution to find analogous solutions to obstacles? Even if so, I don't know that would make an alien cute. We generally recognize cuteness when behavior and appearance mimics human infants, who are helpless.

IsaacKuo
2014-Jul-07, 07:46 PM
I'd say plant sprouts are generally cute, and plants are about as alien from humans as things get here on Earth.

On the other hand, there are various insect larvae which are distinctly less appealing than their adult counterparts (for example, ladybugs). However, I think aversion in these cases are a co-evolutionary result of instincts related to harmful insects. We have an aversion to fuzzy caterpillars and similar creatures that defend themselves with stinging venom. "Alien babies" might not need to fend for themselves, though, so they may generally lack such defenses. We also have an aversion to small maggot-like creatures since they're a sign that potential food is spoiled, and unsafe to eat.

I think that generally we would find "alien babies" cute, assuming they are cared for when they are young. But there's a chance that it coincidentally bears a resemblance to a creature we have an instinctive aversion to.

Noclevername
2014-Jul-07, 08:02 PM
I am allowing for the fact that perhaps life would have a radically different evolutionary trajectory if not from a similar molecule, although I suspect convergence could indeed be possible even among wildly varying base molecular foundations, given similar engineering challenges. I am merely positing that shared DNA would be more credibly enabling of morphological convergence.

For example, we might yet see some local examples of convergence if and when possible life forms in, say, the oceans of Europa are examined, present there based on the exchange of ejecta in the early solar system. I would not be surprised to find fins, bioluminescence, or tentacles, for example.

Remember, I am just trying to figure out a far-fetched yet remotely possible scenario that would allow admiration of traded baby pictures; that's the context. This is in keeping with the highly speculative nature of posts in LiS.

Well, I don't think that most things that do share our DNA are cute, but I guess without alternate evolutionary paths to examine, you can think whatever you like.


Though there have been other movies with cute or attractive (to humans) aliens in them, I was wondering if this would be likely.

...I'm not sure if this would be universal or not.

Most likely, if we find alien life, it will be as varied as Earth life and therefore most of it will not seem cute.

Hlafordlaes
2014-Jul-07, 11:02 PM
Well, I don't think that most things that do share our DNA are cute, but I guess without alternate evolutionary paths to examine, you can think whatever you like.

Hmmm. Let me clarify further by simplifying the above: among the many species on their planet, there are those we might find cute and vice-versa, as they share some characteristics with some species we find cute here. Only a few species on either planet are appealing in this way. If and only if the visiting advanced ET is among these, we can then trade baby pictures.


Most likely, if we find alien life, it will be as varied as Earth life and therefore most of it will not seem cute.

Corollary: some will.

Noclevername
2014-Jul-08, 01:39 AM
Corollary: some will.

Maybe. Maybe not.