Even the stone-cold jaded hearts among us will be warmed by these 20 adorable animals that appear to be smiling.
Not so fast, however — the scientific judgment is still out on whether animals can share a beautiful grin with us. It’s fair to assume that the smiling animals we see are the result of pareidolia, or our predisposition to perceive human features everywhere. Furthermore, many of the cutest animals use a variety of nuanced visual signals to communicate their feelings, which may eliminate the need to smile. Dogs already communicate with each other by lifting their haunches, baring their teeth, altering their postures, and raising, lowering, or waving their tails, so it’s hard to believe that grins aren’t part of their already complex physical vocabulary.
Scientists are beginning to accept the possibility that animals have a broader variety of emotions, and that some of them may even have facial expressions comparable to ours. Mice have different facial expressions to communicate pain, which may be used to assess their suffering throughout a particular experiment, according to a disputed study conducted at McGill University in 2010.
Regardless of whether these joyful creatures are genuinely smiling or simply grinning, they are incredibly beautiful!