Why do animals seem to smiling or sad? Are these universal expressions present in all animals or we recongnise the remotest facial feaures as some form of emotional expression?

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Why do animals seem to smiling or sad? Are these universal expressions present in all animals or we recongnise the remotest facial feaures as some form of emotional expression?

In: Biology
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Yes. Nailed it. We share many things including emotional expressions with many animals other than humans.

This is just humans being weird. We have this behaviour called anthropomorphism, where we project human traits onto non-human things. It’s responsible for a ton of the weird but harmless things we do like thinking cats love us or thinking we saw Jesus in a slice of toast. It’s picking up on the slightest human-like traits and our brains subconsciously going “this is very human”. It’s a very useful survival tool because it makes us *phenomenal* at recognising actual humans, especially facial expressions, but as a side-effect, it also makes us see faces in strangely-shaped trees and subtly think about our electronic devices as if they were alive. This is probably because human babies [have rubbish eyes](https://youtu.be/GK3ebhSmC4A) but still need to be able to recognise humans, so they evolved to think anything with three shapes in the rough positions of two eyes and a mouth is a human.

Now, to be clear, many animals *do* have systems of emotion of varying complexities, but not many have the social behaviours of facial expressions. The reason we think they look sad is because they look close enough to our basic level necessary to see a human and they also look like something we would think was sad if it was on a human.

The latter. Human brains are well adapted to interpreting the faces of other humans. That’s why we often see faces in places where there are none, like “the man in the moon” or images of Jesus on pieces of toast.

It also means that we tend to see human emotions in the faces of non-human animals, even when those animals express their emotions in completely different ways (or may not have human emotions at all).