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170311-whiskers-10

Most land mammals, and even some sea creatures and birds, have whiskers, or vibrissae as they’re more correctly known. Like hair, whiskers are nerve-less and made of keratin but, unlike hair, they are extremely sensitive because they grow from a special hair follicle that contains a nerve-filled capsule of blood. Those nerves mean whiskers are almost like having a sixth sense – they act as well-honed sensors that help with spatial awareness; they help animals detect movement and feel vibrations in the air; they assist with texture and shape discrimination; they help with exploration, especially in low light conditions; and they are believed to play a role in social behaviour. And, let’s face it, they can also be incredibly cute!

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