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Origin of Snuggles

  1. Jul 14, 2016 #1


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    Why do mammals (and probably some other vertebrates) seem to like affection so much? Is it an adaptation or a spandrel? If so, what is the adaptation(s) from which the spandrel emerged?

    I encourage people to use sources (preferably shying away from the field of evolutionary psychology) - this could easily be a highly speculative topic, so even if you can't find a paper that directly supports your claim, try to find some literature that at least indirectly supports it. My preliminary research turned up a lot of answers, maybe too many answers to know where to start.

    Thanks everyone!
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 14, 2016 #2
  4. Jul 15, 2016 #3


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    I think Harlow's work establishes that affection is important, but it doesn't really tell us if there's an evolutionary advantage and, if so, what that advantage is.
  5. Jul 15, 2016 #4

    jim mcnamara

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    Are most mammalian newborns fully homeothermic? Human newborns are not. Temperautre regulation has a very limited range of ambient temperatures. Same for newborn dogs.

    From a veterinary hospital:

    Consider this concept worthy of some kind of a search: - lack of fully functioning homeothermy in newborn mammals requires maternal close proximity for some time after birth. For dogs it is about a week. It is adaptive to be 'cuddly' for the parent, better postpartem survival of offspring.
  6. Jul 16, 2016 #5
    The statement is quite broad in scope. Good question though. In three words I would say "Friend or Foe" Assesment, discimination, and maybe throw in some aspect of sexual reproduction.

    Are compliments included in there also, from anyone you meet, in which case, for example, a compliment from a stranger may be suspect as being sincere.
    Such as a stranger saying to a little girl "Why, you are such a pretty thing!" wherein the reply may be " My mother told me never to talk to strangers." Some conditioning of acceptable close contact would appear to be part of the process.

    Inter-species contact? You meet a dog on the sidewalk, either on a leash, or wandering on its own. You may want to pet it, with the outcome that both parties enjoy the physical attention. But before doing so, isn't the amygdala telling you " No, don't do it, there is a threat" while at the same time the cortex ( if that is the part of the brain doing it ) tells you " The animal needs help, and/or he is so cute." I am sure you have heard of cases where the "thrinking it through" has broken down, or not fully developed for infant, where swimming with the sharks, or playing with the gorilla, seemed at the time such a fine thing to do. ( Two zoo capers where one ended in tragedy ( for the animal) ).

    Is it a contrare position to suggest that we as we mature, develop an envelope of personnal space around us, within which if anyone ( or possibly anything ) attempts to penetrate, we begin to feel anxious and somewhat take a defensive posture? That would be the limbic system at work, with the amagdala immediately accessing the situation and warning as a possible threat, with the other parts joining in with "yays" or "nays". Memory issued through the amagdala, may then say "Unknown, Still a threat" or "Familiar, Guards down", or "Sorry guys, Really really Familiar, enjoy the view."

    I thought of replying just to get a grip on your question, so it may be not true to your request.
    Being that a lot of mammals are a social animal there has to be some aspect to that as well.
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