If you don’t have a smile on your face now, you will after looking at this collection of the 30 happiest animals ever, all grinning joyfully from ear to ear.
These smiling animals, that look cheerful, sweet, or just plain goofy, are bound to turn around even the gloomiest of days.
However, as cute as the pictures may be, you may want to hold on just one minute.
While there are theories supporting both sides of the argument, it’s actually scientifically unproven whether animals can intentionally smile or not.
It’s true that, in the past, scientists greatly underestimated the wide emotional range of animals. But, today, it’s widely accepted that animals do experience feelings and can exhibit several types of emotions like fear, sadness, anger, and happiness. Some even believe that animals can exhibit secondary emotions, like jealousy.
And if the scientific backing to animals’ range of emotions isn’t enough, many people have their own personal stories to attest that animals are definitely capable of feeling (as well as having some big personalities!).
Smiling, on the other hand, could very well be from a specific contortion of muscles that coincidentally resemble a human grin. People often see human faces in things that aren’t actually human at all, including intimate objects; we could just be seeing the “smiling” faces of animals in the same way.
However, that’s not to say that animals are completely incapable of purposefully making a smile.
For example, take chimpanzees, a close relative to humans with similar faces. They often flash a big teeth bearing grin and, in places like zoos where there are plenty of onlookers around, this facial expression can gain them attention. Regardless of whether they’re actually grinning because their happy or not, chimpanzees can associate this “smile” with receiving positive attention and exhibit it purposefully because they like the reaction it produces.
Also, some animal behaviorists are starting to believe that particular animals can “smile” when expressing happiness.
Animals can exhibit emotions in many different physical ways – think of the various ways a cat can express itself by simply moving its ears from upright and relaxed to flat on its head and fearful. A dog can indeed be happy when you walk in the door as you return home, and those feelings can cause it to exhibit a tongue wagging “smile”. While it may not be a smile in the conventional human way, it’s still some sort of physical display that can be linked to happiness.
Either way, it’s up to you to judge whether these animals are actually smiling or not. But you can’t deny that their adorable expressions can brighten your day in an instant.