Neuroscientists at the California Institute of Technology didn’t know what to expect when they started researching a new type of skin cell they discovered in 2007, but what they may have found is impressive and adorable — skin cells in furry animals that are specially designed to register the sensation of petting or stroking. These new cells could expand our entire understanding of petting animals, and redefine cuddling as we know it. Keep reading to learn more about the cells and see video of them in action on all sorts of animals.
To find out what was going on with the specialized nerve cells, researchers genetically engineered mice that made the cells light up when they were activated. They then drilled small holes in the mice, trained a microscope on the cells in question, and set to work finding out what set off the cells, which may be the least cute way to learn about petting something we have ever heard. Still, it worked, the results showed that the cells were activated by gentle stroking motions, but not by poking or prodding.
They then did some further research to determine that yes, Virginia, petting is a pleasant experience. That strikes us as kind of a waste, as they could have saved some time and money just watching these videos and reached the same conclusion. Still and all, better to have it on the record, we suppose.
Not petting this kitten is a bad idea. The kitten will be happy to inform you of this fact.
This slow loris getting its tummy rubbed is among the happiest looking animals we’ve ever seen.
The research was only done on mice, but this owl seems pretty into petting, too.
Puppies, though? Puppies love petting! This is a well known fact!
(via Science Mag)
- You can pet Einstein’s brain with this iPad app… not that it will appreciate it much
- Hearing and touch sensitivity are pretty closely tied together, it seems
- This troll holds the patent on touching anything. ANYTHING.