Survival prompts organisms to prepare adaptive behavior in response to environmental and social threat. However, what are the specific features of the appearance of a conspecific that trigger such adaptive behaviors? For social species, the prime candidates for triggering defense systems are the visual features of the face and the body. We propose a novel approach for studying the ability of the brain to gather survival-relevant information from seeing conspecific body features. Specifically, we propose that behaviorally relevant information from bodies and body expressions is coded at the levels of midlevel features in the brain. These levels are relatively independent from higher-order cognitive and conscious perception of bodies and emotions. Instead, our approach is embedded in an ethological framework and mobilizes computational models for feature discovery.