In a fierce competition, scientists and others around the world are uploading photos to Twitter of the most adorable-looking animal and insect subjects they’ve encountered in their line of work. Biologists, ecologists and conservationists are all in the friendly fight over the most adorable animals on the planet.
The tweets are highlighting the huge diversity of insects, mammals, reptiles and birds being studied by researchers in their various fields around the world. But the #CuteOff hashtag also has encouraged everyday Twitter users to share pictures of own.
Some of these uniquely awesome creatures may not necessarily come to mind when you think of “cute,” but the social media battle is breaking down stereotypes to redefine what we mean when we say “Awwwww…” Having access to some of the world’s most unusual species, scientists are sharing a different version of what exactly “cute” means in their worlds.
The hashtag appears to have started earlier this week during a Twitter conversation between Marcella J. Kelly, an associate professor in Virginia Tech’s Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation who works with carnivores, and Anne Hilborn, an ecologist and Ph.D. student in Kelly’s lab who studies predator prey, focusing on cheetahs. Kelly tweeted that pictures of bat-eared foxes shared by Hilborn were cuter than a picture of baby bears shared by ecological statistician Ben Augustine at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
(Hilborn, by the way, is the same ecologist who started the much more R-rated recent #JunkOff hashtag that inspired scientists to post pictures of increasingly incredible critter genitalia.)
Popular Science @PopSci
Biologists are having a #Cuteoff to determine the cutest creatures in science. Our faves: http://www.popsci.com/science-twitter-hosts-cuteoff?src=SOC&dom=tw
Mirian Tsuchiya @MirianTsuchiya
Who can resist this baby coati? #cuteoff http://bioexpedition.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Coati_Cub_600.jpg …