Scientists Are Having A #CuteOff On Twitter & We're All Better For It

For those of you who, for whatever reason, do not use Twitter to keep up with leading research biologists, you're missing out. Last week, #JunkOff was probably the most literal pissing contest Twitter's ever seen. Biologists the world over went from tweeting contained updates about ongoing projects to photos of animal genitalia, from the biggest, to the smallest, to the most unsettling. Unless you're interested in an up-close look at the Burmese python's twin penises, search this hashtag at your own risk.

Luckily, a far more G-rated, though still animal-themed, hashtag has entered the Twittersphere. #CuteOff fosters the same good-natured competition among scientists that #JunkOff did, just without as many corkscrew-shaped phalluses. Instead, biologists are now tweeting photos of the cuddliest, tiniest, most huggable animals that are currently the subject of biological research. Consider this a slightly more academically ambitious answer to Cute Overload.

Naturally, you're bound to come by a slow loris, perhaps some squirrels, or a baby cuttlefish or two, but it doesn't stop there. If you never thought a baby salmon could be adorable, you've got another thing coming. And what about a naked mole rat? (The one from Kim Possible doesn't count.)

Click through to see some of our favorite tweets, and decide for yourself who should win the #CuteOff — for science.

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Photo: Via @JeffAnimalGuy.
"#CuteOff the cutest…period" —@JeffAnimalGuy
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Photo: Via @SmithsonianENV.
"It's a #CuteOff folks! Look at these #ChesapeakeBay cownose rays! Can we get a SQUEE up in here?!" —@SmithsonianENV
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Photo: Via @AWF_Official.
"A Twitter #CuteOff you say? We've got just the thing—this little #elephant!" —@AWF_Official
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Photo: Via @bramic21.
"The armadillo ant Tatuidris tatusia. What's cuter than an armadillo…ant. #CuteOff" —@bramic21
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Photo: Via @ShamanSciences.
"This Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel tried to crawl up my leg in our alpine camp in 2007. #CuteOff #TeamMammal" —@ShamanSciences
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Photo: Via @jimwharton.
"@BritFinucci Deep sea sharks can be cute, right? #CuteOff #DiverseSharks cc//@SharkDevocean" —@jimwharton
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Photo: Via @andrewsnyder87.
"Elaborate, vibrant coiffure? I'd say that makes this Amazonian royal flycatcher a contender for the #CuteOff!" —@andrewsnyder87
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Photo: Via @claudiawultsch.
"Bearded pig encounter in Sabah, Borneo #CuteOff #TeamMammal" —@claudiawultsch
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Photo: Via @RosemaryMosco.
"A #CuteOff, you say? Here is an eastern red-backed salamander from a herp survey. *drops tiny mic, scuttles off*" —@RosemaryMosco
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Photo: Via @rowhoop.
"#cuteoff: we have a winner " —@rowhoop
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Photo: Via @RallidaeRule.
"I hear you all claim to have had a #CuteOff last night. Nice try, Sora wins. No contest." —@RallidaeRule
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Photo: Via @phishdoc.
"salmon babies snuggling #cuteoff #teamfish" —@phishdoc
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Photo: Via @TheWCS
"Baby's first swim! This hawksbill sea #turtle may be a ringer for the #CuteOff." —@TheWCS