Friday, December 12, 2008

Goosebumps and The Origin of Piloerection

collage by marguerita
goose photos deconstructed
photo by tomas wangen
photo by jiri bohdal
Goose bumps, also called goose flesh, chill bumps, chicken skin, people bumps, or the medical term cutis anserina, are the bumps on a person's skin at the base of body hairs which involuntarily develop when a person is cold or
experiences strong emotions such as fear or awe.
reflex of producing goose bumps is known as horripilation, piloerection,
or the pilomotor reflex. It occurs not only in humans but also in many other mammals; a prominent example are porcupines which raise their quills when threatened.

The "goose bumps" (also "goosebumps") effect gets its name from [geese]]. Goose feathers grow from stores in the epidermis which resemble human follicles. When a goose's feathers are plucked, its skin has protrusions where the feathers were, and it is these bumps which the human phenomenon resemble. It is not clear why in English the particular fowl goose was chosen, as most other birds have this same anatomical feature. The term "goose bumps" is misleading because the bumps on a goose's skin does not qualify as piloerection, though birds do have the same reflex of extending their feathers out, a function of keeping themselves warm.

The German word is a mimic of English, referring to is as Gänsehaut, i.e. "goose skin", as it is in Italian (la pelle d'oca) . In other languages, however, the "goose" may be replaced by other kinds of poultry. For instance, "hen" is used in French (la chair de poule) and Spanish (la piel de gallina), "Chicken" is used in Dutch (kippenvel), Chinese (雞皮疙瘩) and Afrikaanshoendervleis). The equivalent Japanese term, 鳥肌, torihada, translates literally as "bird skin". (

The same effect is manifested in the root word "horror" in English, which is derived from Latinhorrere, which means "to bristle", and "be horrified", because of the accompanying hair reaction.Goose bumps - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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