(WYTV) – Most mammals have whiskers but not humans. To understand why we lost whiskers, we need to understand why some animals still have theirs.
Whisker follicles are much deeper than hair follicles. They vibrate to send information to nerve cells.
Animals use their whiskers to help them see and understand their environment.
There are two kinds of whiskers.
Animals can move their long whiskers to help them to find their way in the dark and navigate around tight spaces.
The short whiskers help them recognize objects, like your hand, for example. The animal cannot move the short ones voluntarily.
We humans lost the DNA for whiskers around 800,000 years ago as other parts of our bodies became more sensitive, such as our fingers.
That’s why a papercut hurts so much — our fingers are chock full of nerve endings.
Try this simple test of sensitivity: Have a friend use two pencils to touch your arm while you close your eyes.
Have your friend move the pencils closer and closer together. At a certain point, you will not be able to tell if you’re feeling two pencils or one.
Then, repeat with pencils on your fingers. The feeling will be much more sensitive.
This test is called the Two Point Discrimination test, and doctors and therapists often use it to test patients for paralysis.
So, we as humans may not have whiskers. We’re just slightly more dependent on our brains.