The Function of Cat Whiskers

The Function of Cat Whiskers

The Function of Cat WhiskersDOMESTIC cats are mostly nocturnal.
Whiskers apparently help them to
identify nearby objects and catch prey,
particularly after dusk.

Consider: Cats’ whiskers are attached
to tissues that have multiple nerve endings.
These nerves are sensitive to even
the slightest movement of air. As a result,
cats can detect nearby objects without
seeing them—obviously an advantage in
the dark.

Since whiskers are sensitive to pressure,
cats use them to determine the
position and movement of an object or of
prey. Whiskers also help cats to measure
the width of an opening before they attempt
to go through it. The Encyclopædia
Britannica acknowledges that “the functions
of the whiskers (vibrissae) are only
partially understood; however, it is known
that, if they are cut off, the cat is temporarily

Scientists are designing robots
equipped with sensors that mimic cat
whiskers to help the robots navigate
around obstacles. These sensors, called
e-whiskers, “should have a wide range
of applications for advanced robotics,
human-machine user interfaces, and
biological applications,” says Ali Javey,
a faculty scientist at the University of
California, Berkeley.

What do you think? Did the function
of cat whiskers come about by evolution?
Or was it designed?

Source: Awake –


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