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(vertebrate zoology)
Hairs with specialized erectile tissue; found on all mammals except humans. Also known as sinus hairs; tactile hairs; whiskers.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



tactile hairs that protrude above the furry covering in mammals. The vibrissae are usually distributed in clumps on the head (on the nose, above the eyes, on the lower jaw, and so forth), and they are sometimes found on other parts of the body also (for example, in many marsupials, on the paws). They greatly resemble ordinary hairs but are several times thicker and longer. Vibrissae are specialized sense organs that perceive even the smallest variations in the environment. The base of each vibrissa is immersed in a hair follicle and surrounded by venous cavities (hence the English term for vibrissae, “sinus hairs”). Vibrissae on the head are innervated by the trigeminal nerve. The structure of the skull bones of ancient animal-like reptiles indicates that vibrissae were apparently developed in the ancestors of mammals and may be regarded as an older formation than hair. Sometimes the large hairs in the nasal cavities of humans and certain large, chitinous bristles on the bodies of insects are also called vibrissae.


Shmal’gauzen, I. I. Osnovy sravnitel’noi anatomii pozvonochnykh zhivotnykh, 4th ed. Moscow, 1947.
lablokov, A. V., and G. A. KlevezaT. “Vibrissy kitoobraznykh i lastonogikh, ikh raspredelenie, stroenie i znachenie.” In the collection Morfologicheskie osobennosti vodnykh mlekopitaiushchikh. Moscow, 1964.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
In rats and mice a plastic change in functional cortical somatosensory representation can be evoked by trimming all the rows of vibrissae except one.
The ringwulst has a unique shape and is situated within the ring sinus (34) such that movements of the vibrissae are likely to produce corresponding movements of the ringwulst.
acrobata can be identified by some characters, like a very long muzzle, reduced size of ears, long mystacial vibrissae, short and blunt nails covered by hair, large digital pads, lack of tail, and gray-light brown agouti coarse pelage.
Long stiff whiskers, called vibrissae, are used for sensing prey in the mud or finding the underwater opening to a burrow in murky water.
An experienced investigator recorded freezing time--defined as complete immobility of the animal, with the absence of vibrissae movements and sniffing--in minute bins continuously for 5 min with a chronometer.
The vibrissae, or whiskers, located on the sides of the muzzle and beneath the chin, are so sensitive that they can detect airflow.
During recording, we added one-tenth of the initial dose of urethane upon detecting signs of alertness, such as respiratory acceleration, movements of the vibrissae, or blinking, or sudden changes in cardiac pulse.
The paragraph on sensory organs is very interesting, particularly the section about vibrissae (i.e.
The eyes and vibrissae in Dapson's specimen were normal color.