I was observing my cat up close when I noticed his whiskers were in a square lattice as a novice mathematician, took notice of it and wanted to know if any other animal had this peculiar feature, so I went onto my phone and choose a random animal that I knew had whiskers (which was the sea lion), and to my surprise, it had the same grid-like shape of my cat's. This seemingly insignificant question was turned into a very real question that I had no answer to. Plus, the only place where I saw someone mentioning it was on Wikipedia, where it said: "…they form an ordered grid of arcs (columns) and rows…" However, this is the only sentence (besides the caption of the image that the sentence refers to) that takes notice in this lattice, so I'm wondering why (maybe because of evolution?) all whiskers are in this shape.

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    $\begingroup$ The question of "why" can have different meanings for different people. You may find an answer by studying how the whiskers develop. Evolutionary explanations are intriguing but hard to prove. You can also look at their functionality. $\endgroup$
    – vkehayas
    Jun 29, 2022 at 6:59
  • $\begingroup$ We know that some nocturnal species use them for navigation. In the case of mice or rats, the tips of the whiskers of a row reach forward, beyond the nose, placed on the same plane. So it helps the animal predict what is coming next as it moves forward. The physical properties of an obstacle appear as a series of row-wise stimuli. $\endgroup$
    – vkehayas
    Jun 29, 2022 at 6:59
  • $\begingroup$ The brain of these species (e.g. the barrel cortex) is certainly set up to process stimuli row-wise, with increased inter-row connectivity and activation flowing row-wise. $\endgroup$
    – vkehayas
    Jun 29, 2022 at 7:02
  • $\begingroup$ Being more specific about what you mean would help, I certainly would not describe whiskers as being in a lattice, they rarely cross over each other. what about the whiskers is in a lattice? maybe include an image. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Jul 30, 2022 at 13:48
  • $\begingroup$ Whiskers in cats are like little tuned sensory apparatuses that let them feel/handle what they're eating up close, since they don't see very well up close. It could be they're organized in a sort of matrix to get a better feeling of what's close. I personally see rows, and then the two whiskers that are apart (further up the cheek). Also the whiskers in the hind legs can convey meaningful information about the environment before deciding to, for example, perform a jump. $\endgroup$ Sep 26, 2023 at 21:36


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