Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical.
Related to Vibrissae: whiskers


(vertebrate zoology)
Hairs with specialized erectile tissue; found on all mammals except humans. Also known as sinus hairs; tactile hairs; whiskers.



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.


References in periodicals archive ?
The mean time to recovery of vibrissae orientation in untreated animals was 12.
The mean time to the onset of vibrissae movement in untreated animals was 17.
Time to full recovery of vibrissae movement showed a similar pattern.
Circadian activity: In common with the majority of rodents, the pilorie was probably most active in darkness; however, its relatively small eyes and short vibrissae suggest that it was crepuscular with some diurnal activity rather than strictly nocturnal.
rattus in having a longer tail, ears, vibrissae, and all limb segments, especially those of the hind limbs.
Limits of quantitative character variability (in the majority of rodents) used for data ranging (in % except for ACP) Limits of variability Character Minimum Maximum Tail length (T') 0 150 Ear length (E') 0 35 Vibrissae length (Vib') 5 60 Forefoot claw length (UM') 0 5 Hind foot length (HF') 10 40 Forefoot length (FF') 5 20 Rostrum length (LR') 15 40 Zigomatic breadth (ZB') 40 70 Breadth across incisor tips (BIT') 3 10 Length of maxillary toothrow (LMT') 5 25 Height of mandibular corpus (HMd') 10 25 Angle of condylar process (ACP, [degrees]) 10 60 Table 2.
5* as long as wide, apex evenly-rounded (right flagellomere 1 and left arista missing from HT and arista cannot be described); lunule brown, shiny; face uniform silver-grey pruinose throughout, with very narrow silver fascia (adjacent to eye margin), region between this fascia and ptilinal fissure yellow-silver pruinose, facial carina developed as a prominent ridge, extending % length of face, vibrissae strong; occiput grey pruinose; gena narrow, eye height/genal height ratio: 11:1 (HT), silver pruinose, abruptly dirty brown beyond basal angle; palpus thin, black, brown basally, brown microtrichose.
5* as long as wide, arista with 6 or 7 long dorsal branches and 3 or 4 ventral branches in addition to terminal fork; facial carina slightly yellow pruinose, developed as a low ridge, extending % length of face, clypeus black, much narrower than face; vibrissae moderately strong, and 10 very small, brown setae bordering genal groove; occiput golden-grey pruinose; gena narrow, eye height/ genal height ratio: 8:50 (n = 1, N-T), silver pruinose, abruptly golden-brown beyond basal angle; palpus black-brown.
8 length of frons; posterior orbital seta moderately strong, slightly shorter than outer vertical seta; flagellomere 1 yellow pruinose basally, otherwise grey pruinose throughout, arista with 7 or 8 long dorsal branches and 3 ventral branches in addition to terminal fork; gena narrow, eye height/ genal height ratio: 12:1 (HT), silver pruinose, slightly darker beyond basal angle; vibrissae weakly developed; palpus pale brown.