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BBC Future

Why do you get goosebumps?

What’s the point of those little bumps that flare up on our skin when we’re cold or frightened? For clues, we have to look to our hairy past, says Greg Foot.

Sometimes goosebumps come with a fright, sometimes simply when we’re chilly. But what’s the point of these little raised bumps all over our skin? They don’t seem to perform any purpose, so why are they there?

For clues, we have to look to our furry ancestors. Our species was once covered from head to toe in hair, and goosebumps are all that’s left behind of that hairy past. By studying the behaviour of our primate cousins today, we can understand why goosebumps flare up with a scare.

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