- by Dr Asmita Dhekne
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- Mar 09 2017
Why do we get goose bumps?
When cold the body hair of all well evolved creatures or mammals naturally stands up when icy, making a cushy layer of warmth. There is a contraction of the muscles around the hair follicles when we feel cold. – A reflex left over from when our precursors had long body hair. Yet, since we don't have much body hair, all we see are the shivers or the goose bumps on our skin.
Goosebumps are tiny projections of the skin at the bottom of the hair follicle called the goose bumps. They are called so because their skin looks similar to the goose at the poultry whose feathers have been plucked. Our animal ancestors, who once upon a time had lots of hair on their body, have passed on the physical response of goose bumps to us humans.
Pilomotor reflex is an involuntary nervous system response due to which we get goose bumps. When specific nerves in the skin stimulate the hair follicles, a primitive response occurs, which provokes contraction of tiny muscle cells called arrector pili at the base of the hair follicles.
The hair follicles are elevated slightly due to the contraction of the cells of these muscles, due to which the hair from the skin surface stand up. Typically goose bumps arise as a response to cold and excitement, meaning maybe due to strong emotional or psychological stimuli or chill temperature.
Whenever or brain experiences any strong stimuli which could be due to stress, emotions, fear etc it causes goose bumps.
In these minutes, nerve endings receive a message from sensory system to trigger the arrector pili muscles, which make goosebumps show up
In creatures with long hair, goosebumps help them ensure against icy climate, as standing hair gives more protection to the body. Additionally, various animals, including cats, utilize goosebumps to look bigger and all the more scary when they feel debilitated or threatened.
As we do not have plenty of hair, goosebumps are not of much use to us humans, although it helps us to gage our environment whether we are feeling too emotionally drained, feeling cold, nervous or threatened. It works as an indicator.
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