Why do we get goosebumps?

3 minutes

Why do fear, cold and sublime feelings all provoke the same response in our skin?

The reason humans get goosebumps – or, to be technical, experience horripilation – when scared is simple enough: perceived threats are met with a rush of adrenaline through the bloodstream, causing muscle contractions that make hairs stand on end. This made our much hairier ancestors appear larger to potential predators. But why does our skin react this way when we’re cold or when we’re moved by a song, a landscape or a painting? Or even when we drink lemon juice? This video from NPR’s Skunk Bear probes some of the evolutionary origins of our skin’s most mysterious adaptation.

Producer: Adam Cole, Ryan Kellman

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