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A mcguffin is a creature who is wanted by many organizations on earth, wars were waged through history to obtain a mcguffin and to this day they still are. People sacrifice their lives seeking or hiding and defending a mcguffin.

Mcguffins are creatures who evolved for the sole purpose of being wanted,rare in nature they are not bred or farmed and they are not eaten.

People are attracted by the mcguffin, they just want one, even at the cost of killing people and risking their death, finding a single mcguffin is incredibly rare and finding two takes the effort of a nation, but even then...mcguffins can't be forced to breed, just like pandas they show no interest in sex. Fortunately mcguffins last a very long time, some mcguffins were killed by terroristic attacks but no one has ever seen a mcguffin die of old age. Nations across the world pride their mcguffins, and some of them are as old as human civilations.

How do I explain why the mcguffin evolved to be wanted by humans in the first place?

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    $\begingroup$ Turns out, pandas were just shy (like really really reallyyyyyyy shy) $\endgroup$ – ThePainfull Jun 15 '20 at 14:31
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    $\begingroup$ Near-immortality makes sense in a species with very low reproductive rates and extremely low predation. No need to reproduce if you never die. The survival advantage of psychic-level cuteness makes good sense, but I'd be looking for selective pressure on individuals to develop resistance to the cuteness effect - perhaps autistic rulers who are unaffected (thus fighting fewer wars, expending fewer wasted resources, etc.) $\endgroup$ – DWKraus Jun 15 '20 at 15:05
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    $\begingroup$ @ThePainfull It's actually much less uncommon (if that makes sense) than people think. Chinese panda giving birth in The Netherlands, May 2020. $\endgroup$ – Mast Jun 16 '20 at 7:51
  • $\begingroup$ It's the humans that evolved to be fiction writers. $\endgroup$ – Hot Licks Jun 16 '20 at 20:51
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How do I explain why the mcguffin evolved to be wanted by humans in the first place?

All evolutionary traits are, or where at some point, beneficial to a species survival. This includes traits that have no apparent use other than being attractive to others. Being cute can keep you alive, just ask any baby. If other beings like you, and are willing to depart with food and other resources to be with you, you are basically set.

Your McGuffins are the apex of cute. In the same way both pikes and great whites evolved to be deadly, but great whites are a lot more deadly than pikes (to most species), cats and McGuffins evolved to be cute and attractive to humans, but McGuffins are a lot cuter than cats. People would throw their cat in the bin just to please their McGuffin and this means that evolutionary speaking, McGuffins have a better chance of success. This is why they evolved to be the most desirable creatures on the planet.

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    $\begingroup$ I remember reading a story once en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… where an alien biome was invading Earth. Mother rabbits would let their babies starve to feed the little alien lifeforms because they were cuter. $\endgroup$ – DWKraus Jun 15 '20 at 14:59
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    $\begingroup$ Who says they just evolved? We breed animals for cuteness all the time!! $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Jun 16 '20 at 16:11
  • $\begingroup$ @JoeBloggs I guess OP did: "they are not bred or farmed". But you are absolutely correct that animals are bred for cuteness, it would probably be hard for nature to produce something that is cuter than something we bred purposefully. However I think that within the context of the question, some leeway is allowed. We are retrofitting an evolutionary backstory to a non existent animal after all :) $\endgroup$ – Douwe Jun 17 '20 at 7:47
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Mcguffin babies are carrion eaters. They lay their eggs on the bodies of the dead to ensure they have a suitable food source. However as they're so much larger than the equivalent flies, they need a considerable supply of dead bodies to feed their voracious young.

As such they've evolved to cause uncontrollable desire in susceptible mammals, such that they will fight to the death to be in the zone of influence of a mcguffin. By this means a breeding mcguffin will accumulate enough corpses in a small zone to provide sufficient food for its young.

Nobody has seen mcguffins breeding? Perhaps it's simply that nobody has survived seeing mcguffins breeding.

Now this would cause signficant issues if in full effect all the time, so the mcguffin primarily only releases the hormones during the breeding season, but mcguffins remain lazy carrion eaters and as such low levels are released on a steady basis even out of season.

Elves are wonderful. They provoke wonder.
Elves are marvellous. They cause marvels.
Elves are fantastic. They create fantasies.
Elves are glamorous. They project glamour.
Elves are enchanting. They weave enchantment.
Elves are terrific. They beget terror.
The thing about words is that meanings can twist just like a snake, and if you want to find snakes look for them behind words that have changed their meaning.
No one ever said elves are nice.
Elves are bad.
Terry Pratchett, Lords and Ladies

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  • $\begingroup$ I'd worry that if this were the case, the world would be filled with the critters. Might explain the war stuff, though. It would tend to only have this effect when a breeding pair or pregnant female was around. Otherwise the violence could be counter-productive. $\endgroup$ – DWKraus Jun 15 '20 at 15:09
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    $\begingroup$ @DWKraus they can still have an indefinitely long breeding cycle, perhaps their last season was around the fall of Rome $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Jun 15 '20 at 15:31
  • $\begingroup$ @DWKraus, of course if I make the young voracious instead of multitudinous that should fix the balance of numbers a little. $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Jun 16 '20 at 9:15
  • $\begingroup$ Nobody has seen mcguffins breeding? => conversely, they only breed in the presence of enough bodies. All those kept in countries at peace are not breeding because there's no pile big enough to feed the youth; those in countries at war are breeding, but everybody's too preoccupied by survival to take notice. $\endgroup$ – Matthieu M. Jun 16 '20 at 14:51
  • $\begingroup$ Now I know how tribbles breed so fast.... $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Jun 16 '20 at 16:11
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Religious Icons

Considering that these creatures are biologically immortal, its not hard to imagine them taking on mythical, and then religious status among various cultures throughout history. I can imagine that they become religious icons for the people, direct physical proof that everlasting life is actually possible. People are willing to go to extreme lengths and expend monumental effort for religious purposes. Posessing these creatures gives vast political power to whatever ruling class manages to aquire one because it gives them huge influence with the worshipful masses since is validates that they are truly the chosen nation.

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There is a natural dye called Tyrian Purple, which could only be obtained by harvesting a certain kind of sea snail in the Mediterranean Sea.

Twelve thousand snails of Murex brandaris yield no more than 1.4 g of pure dye, enough to colour only the trim of a single garment.

The enormous difficulty of producing enough Tyrian Purple to dye to even small amounts of cloth made it ridiculously expensive and an exclusive luxury item that would signal great wealth.
In the Roman upper class wearing a white toga with even a single stripe of Tyrian Purple was considered a great status symbol.
Later its use was restricted to be exclusively allowed for the Roman Emperor or respectively the Byzantine Emperor.

My suggestion therefore is, that your McGuffin - by the same sheer randomness that a sea snail produces a beautiful exclusive dye - organically produces something that is equally desired and can only by obtained from McGuffins.

What that something is depends on your world. As the example given shows, even something purely cosmetic like a beautiful dye can fullfill your requirements if it fits the attributes of your world.
In fact I would argue that if in reality Tyrian Purple had been obtainable only from your McGuffins instead of sea snails, it would have worked out exactly as you described it. There would have indeed wars been waged just so that a king or an emperor can wear purple garments.
We are simple creatures...

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Near-immortality

The secret of the McGuffins' incredibly long lifespans is that they produce some form of enzyme (or some other more appropriate medical term) capable of repairing the genetic and cellular damage caused by aging. This substance can be non-invasively collected (milked?) and works almost as well on humans; regular doses can slow down human aging by decades to centuries.

It didn't evolve to be wanted by humans, it had a trait extremely beneficial to humans. Upon discovering this, humans began cherishing and protecting them, causing them to eventually lose the ability to defend themselves and becoming codependent on their human protectors.

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  • $\begingroup$ This seems the most sensible explanation, given the question. A possible alternative is that mankind has not yet perfected the beneficial effects of McGuffins' biochemistry. It's a long process and having more living specimens would greatly help. $\endgroup$ – Duncan Drake Jun 16 '20 at 15:18
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Frame Challenge:

Mcguffins did not evolve - they were made to be like that

Some say that they came from somewhere beyond our world, long ago. Strangers from another world, so advanced they could tinker with their own biology? We can only guess.

It's easy to imagine now that they stumbled upon our primitive ancestors, who were barely evolved beyond brute animals, and saw a chance. If they changed themselves to perfectly fit our strongest instincts for nurture and affection, they could be worshipped like gods! And so they did just that.

Well, that's only a guess, really. Perhaps a real god created Mcguffins, or the guessed-at aliens did not change themselves, but designed grew the Mcguffins - a blessing they bestowed on us before moving on. We may never know the truth. But, as you would also know if you had ever encountered one yourself, Mcguffins were clearly created by some superior intelligence or divine power.

Nature is not capable of forming anything so perfect, so utterly desirable! Now hand me that detonator - we need to finish this IED so we can take out the lead vehicle in the convoy transporting this hemisphere's Mcguffin. We must capture it for ourselves. Trust me - you'll understand when you see it.

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