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The walrus's whiskers and the mouse's moustache: why do animals have whiskers?

Join us online with Dr Robyn Grant from the Manchester Metropolitan University as she discusses mammalian whiskers!


This event is hosted online by the Berkshire Mammal Group in association with the Cole Museum of Zoology

Nearly all mammals have whiskers – sensory tactile hairs, also known as vibrissae. In fact, whiskers are only truly absent in a handful of species, including humans. However, much of what we know about whiskers comes from studying just a few species, such as laboratory rats and mice. In this presentation, I will present a snapshot of what is known about how different species use their whiskers, drawing information from studies of whisker anatomy, development, evolution, and function. In particular, I will answer the following questions: how do whiskers work, develop, and evolve? And what are they for? I will also consider the applications of whisker research for mammalian behaviour, welfare, and conservation.