Just for funsies, let’s talk about me for a bit. I’ve learned in the last two years- since abandoning the rat race- that very few people are able to accurately guess my age. I can tell them pretty much anything from 18-35 and they’ll accept it until they notice that I can’t keep a straight face (to save my life even; it’s a pain in the ass). I’ve investigated this; reportedly it’s because I look very young (18ish) and I come off very mature (30ish). The latter is probably because I use grammatical sentences. What a throwback, right?
Usually I’ll make people guess first, because “it’s more fun.” And they’ll typically guess 20-22. Makes sense. All of the signs point to a prodigious collegiate who’s biding his time to make it big in STEM.
Back when I was 18 I liked to play the same game with strangers. They usually guessed 25. I used full sentences then, too, but that can’t be the whole story. What’s the beef?
Neoteny (play /niːˈɒtɨni/) /niːˈɒtni/, or /niːˈɒtəni/ also called juvenilization, is one of the two ways by which pedomorphism can arise. Pedomorphism is the retention by adults of traits previously seen only in juveniles, and is a subject studied in the field of developmental biology. In neoteny, the physiological (or somatic) development of an organism (typically an animal) is slowed or delayed. In contrast, in progenesis, sexual development occurs faster. Both processes result in pedomorphism. Ultimately this process results in the retention, in the adults of a species, of juvenile physical characteristics well into maturity and pedogenesis (paedogenesis), the reproduction in a neotenized state.
Clearly we’re not talking about progenesis in my case. If I recall correctly, I hit puberty late (though it’s hard to say- I had zero interest in sexual behaviors back then, as compared to an intellectual interest now). Let’s see if the initial prognosis actually fits the symptoms:
These are neotenous traits in humans: flattened face, [no] broadened face,[no] large brain,[yes, especially the parietal and occipital lobes] hairless body,[no] hairless face,[definitely no] small nose,[meh] reduction of brow ridge,[no] small teeth,[meh] small upper jaw (maxilla),[yes] small lower jaw (mandible),[meh] thinness of skull bones,[no] limbs proportionately short compared to torso length,[no] longer leg than arm length,[very yes] larger eyes,[yes] and upright stance.[yes]
Objectively then, it’s probably not the case. Still, I have a couple of pedomorphic traits that didn’t make the list: red hair, pale skin, an underdeveloped Adam’s Apple (I naturally sing in falsetto, and I have to consciously guard against speaking in it), and a fairly large head and face.
It could also be that my social skills are finally at a middle school-high school level.
Subjectively, I tend to believe that I am neotenous because my cognitive development seems to be lagging behind my age group. This is a difficult belief to back up analytically, so it might just be optimism. Still, I look forward to peaking at around 28. (Although some recently released research cynically suggests that my previous speculation was true.)
If lifelong patterns hold true, I’ll reread this post at 28and wonder if it wasn’t written by some other idiot.