Scientific Digest: Problems of cat mimicry and unpredictable beauty?

The science news of the week: I could never understand people who pay huge amounts of money for a kitten of a rare breed when there are adorable cats waiting for their turn in shelters. But what can you do, some pay tribute to fashion, others look for a super cute or unusual cat, especially since new exotic breeds are constantly appearing in the world. But what pleases the human eye is not necessarily good for the cat. Flat-faced cats tend to have narrow airways, folds of excess skin, and small eye sockets, which can cause many health problems, from difficulty breathing to the risk of fatal heat stroke. However, according to the authors of a new study published in Frontiers in veterinary science, health is not the only aspect to consider. All of these specially bred traits interfere with the cats’ ability to communicate with each other and properly express their emotions.
In fact, scientists write that a cat’s face (although we may not always notice it) can reflect a whole range of emotions, from fear and despair to pain and anger. But if your face is flat and lacks facial muscles, it is very difficult to understand what is reflected there. (Look at a Barbie doll and tell me if she ever feels afraid, hurt, or offended.) After analyzing photos of nearly two thousand cat faces, experts have discovered that brachycephalic cats (which have a flattened type of face) almost always have a sad expression, even when the cat feels perfectly fine. This is especially noticeable in Scottish Fold cats, which seem to be perpetual sufferers, as this expression is more pronounced on their faces than in normal domestic shorthair cats who are actually in pain.
We explain quickly, simply, and clearly what happened, why it matters, and what happens next. эпизоды – Episodes End of story Podcast advertising Cats with deliberately elongated heads (known as dolichocephalics) are no easier. This includes Siamese and Abyssinian breeds, which have facial markers responsible for expressing various emotions, even neutral ones, located in completely different places than in ordinary domestic cats (mesocephalics). Yes, scientists say that it is no secret that we subconsciously choose not only cute or kitten-like animals, but also cats with a pleading look in their eyes (even if it is just a feature of the skull structure). Unfortunately, this leads to the proliferation of such breeds, which disrupts normal communication between a pet and a human, as the human cannot understand what the cat is feeling or wanting. In addition, communication between the animals themselves, who also read a lot through facial expressions, becomes very complicated and can lead to unpredictable consequences.
Of course, the mood and condition of the animal can be inferred from other signs – behavior or posture, but the problem is that not only the skull undergoes changes: the size decreases or increases, the paws become longer or shorter, the tail or fur disappears. What do the experts say? First of all, find out as much as possible about your future pet, especially about its health, behavior and preferences, and if possible, avoid breeds with extremely altered characteristics. And if you already have an extreme pet, remember that facial expressions can be very deceiving, and carefully monitor any deviations from normal behavior.

By the way, about beauty. The problem of women’s self-hatred caused by the mass media, which promotes virtually unattainable ideals of beauty, has long been known. However, as American researchers Sarah Johnson and Rene Engeln found in their study published in the journal Sex Roles, many women’s misconceptions also stem from their sincere belief that all men are really crazy about skinny girls. Johnson and Engeln conducted a series of their own experiments, but unlike all previous ones, they offered their participants (who were both women and men) to rate photographs published in the press not of supermodels, but of ordinary women. In the first case, a group of approximately equal numbers of male and female students were asked to rate the shape and attractiveness of 13 women in photographs on a scale from 1 “too thin” to 7 “too full” and on the same scale from 1 to 7 “extremely unattractive” to “extremely attractive. Participants then had to guess how members of the opposite sex would rate the same women. Researchers have found that by giving women in photos generally the same ratings, participants in the experiment were unable to predict how members of the opposite sex would rate the same photos. Scientists have dubbed this phenomenon “parallel misperception” – meaning that both sexes overestimate the other’s ability to idealize. Johnson and Engel then organized a second experiment using the same scheme, but this time the age of the participants varied from 18 to 86 years. This time, there was already a noticeable difference in the ratings: women tended to rate the models as too thin, while men gave higher marks for attractiveness. However, when it came to guessing how members of the opposite sex would rate these photos, everything followed the same pattern as in the first experiment. Both men and women assumed that the other gender would rate the models higher than they actually did. The authors of the study sincerely hope that their discovery will help reduce the negative effects of unhealthy beauty standards. It’s not enough to simply explain to women that the media’s ideals of female beauty have little to do with reality, Johnson and Engel argue. It is also important to help women realize that they overestimate men’s preferences for beauty.

Space is full of tail-wearing denizens: comets, with long tails trailing behind them. But comets come and go, while Mercury stands out for its constancy, having its own place in the lineup of planets. At the same time, like a comet, it has a luxurious orange-yellow tail that stretches for millions of kilometers. The point is that Mercury is closest to the Sun, and such proximity to the star means that it is literally bathed in solar radiation and swept by solar winds. At the same time, the planet itself is tiny, even compared to Earth, let alone Jupiter or Saturn, its gravitational field is non-existent, and its magnetic field is also weak. Therefore, Mercury has no atmosphere of its own, but rather an exosphere consisting of atoms of oxygen, hydrogen, sodium, potassium, and helium. Although it is gravitationally bound to the planet, it is too sparse to behave like a full-fledged gas. And it provides no protection from the solar wind. And this wind is capable of exerting enough pressure to inflate (figuratively, of course) the sails of spacecraft, and it also creates tails for comets. As comets approach the sun, the ice in them begins to evaporate, ejecting particles from the body of the comet, and the solar radiation pulls these particles into long tails, so that the tail is not formed by the movement of the comet, but by this very solar wind, and therefore always points away from the sun. Well, what about Mercury? There is ice there, but the tail is not made of ice, but of sodium atoms that glow under the influence of ionizing ultraviolet rays, similar to Earth’s auroras. This makes Mercury look like a comet with a tail nearly 3.5 million kilometers long. It may seem like a big deal, but Venus sometimes grows a tail when the solar wind blows in the right direction, and our Moon has one too, though not as bright as Mercury’s. And many comets also have beautiful sodium tails. But the beauty of Mercury’s tail is that by studying it at different points in its orbit, astronomers can calculate seasonal variations in Mercury’s exosphere and the influence of the solar wind on small planets. And since sodium tails are typically found on bodies composed of dense rock, the presence of such tails in other solar systems may indicate the possible presence of habitable exoplanets there.

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