Why do you get goosebumps? Easy. You’re boyfriend kisses you on the neck and you get tiny bumps on your skin, right? Well, partially. Goosebumps happen when you’re cold or excited or frightened. So, yeah, you’re boyfriend might be giving you goosebumps, but it’s not a very scientific answer, satisfactory though it may be to some. However, for the rest of us, there is a slightly more evolutionary based cause.
What Are Goosebumps?
Goosebumps are a leftover trait from our animal ancestors, like our tailbones, and also, like our tailbones, goosebumps were a lot more useful to our predecessors than they are to us. As you probably know, goosebumps are those tiny raised portions of the skin that look like plucked chicken flesh. However, you may not know why they happen. Goosebumps are caused by miniature muscle contractions attached to the hair which causes a little depression on the surface of the skin, making the surrounding area appear to stick out. This same contraction makes our hair stand up when we get chilled. If we had a thick coat of fur, like our animal friends, this would help us retain heat, but, since we don’t, the reaction is useless, but that doesn’t stop it from happening.
Emotions and Goosebumps
You may also notice that hair on many animals stands up when they are provoked, or feel threatened by another animal. This is a natural defense which, in combination with the back arch and sideways position that accompanies it, usually causes the offender to back off. Similarly, people get goosebumps in emotional situations, such as watching horror movies, listening to the national anthem or some such equally moving experience.
Heat and Goosebumps
Because goosebumps are usually a response to extreme cold, it may seem odd that some people get goosebumps in the heat. This is because sweat can also induce goosebumps. As perspiration evaporates fro the skin, it cools down. The dramatic temperature change causes the goosebump response to kick in as a result.
Why Do We Get Goosebumps?
At the root of all goosebumps is a hormone called adrenaline. Adrenaline is produced in two bean-shaped glands which sit on top of the kidneys, not only causing the contraction of skin muscles but many other bodily reactions as well. Animals release the hormone when they are cold or under stress in preparation for “flight or fight.” Humans tend to produce the hormone in the face of strong emotions like anger or excitement. Adrenaline release is also characterized by trembling hands, increased blood pressure, and “butterflies” in the stomach.
Got goosebumps? Let us know your goose bump stories and clean and dirty! We love to know!