We’ve all heard about the Natural Law of Selection which upholds the rule: Survival of the Fittest. This just means that the animals who are stronger and more capable of adapting and that they will survive and evolve. Nowadays, however, scientists are observing a trend, a new order aptly called: “Survival of the Cutest”.
As we know, many animal species are already endangered or facing the threats of extinction. While conservation efforts are there, can you recall some animals that we have been successfully protecting so far?
Survival of the Cutest indeed!
For the most part, our conservation efforts involve pandas and polar bears, tigers and elephants. And though they are truly far from being endangered, dogs are highly conserved and protected, too. Of course, protecting our favorite animals is not wrong at all but our biases towards them are letting other important species to die off.
According to Ernie Small a veterinary research scientist from Canada, today’s conservation efforts include “beautiful and useful species only”. Small published an article in the Journal of Biodiversity named, The New Noah’s Ark. The article discusses the human tendency of deciding which animal species survive and which die off according to our own criteria of beauty and usefulness. Animals that are beautiful, cute, or has commercial or industrial value (e.g. seafood like tuna, salmon etc) will be conserved.
How about us humans? Won't you conserve us too? 🙁
Small further notes who are the major losers in this new shift in conservation:
the losers in the competition for protection are mostly reptiles and amphibians, even though these — especially frogs and toads — are probably the most endangered groups of animals in the world.
In another study, Small discussed the traits of animals that gears humans to save or care for them:
1. Usefulness: If animal is used for food, clothing, animals of burden etc.
2. Being fierce or powerful : Baffling as it is, but we are also enchanted with the magnificence of powerful animals. Does lion and tiger conservation ring a bell? Or maybe we just didn’t move on from Lion King.
3. Displaying human-like traits : We are fascinated when animals display characteristics close to ours. Thus apes and primates are number one on this aspect. So are “intelligent” animals such as dolphins and yes our dogs.
4. Cuddliness : Yes it really helps that the animal is cute, or seem huggable. Think of the panda, or koalas.
5. Beauty or color : Some birds receive some love from us humans because of their bright colours or beauty.
Now the traits that Small lists as undesirable:
1. Smelling bad! : Animals that evoke strong smells such as skunks are a no-no! We would even call exterminators for that!
2. Slimy skin, scales, wrinkles and warts: : Collectively, we don’t like taking care of animals that seem gross or ugly.
3. Eating dirty food : That’s why we hate rats, or even if vultures and carrion-eaters are endangered, we don’t give much of a damn.
So there you have it. Not only are we responsible for the endangered state of these animals. We also influence their survival or death because of our prejudices. What do you think of this? Are we really enforcing, survival of the cutest?
Source: National Post
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