Why Is the Sense of Touch Important?

sense-touch-important Credit: Lena Vasiljeva/Flickr/CC-BY-2.0

The sense of touch is important because it allows animals to derive information about their surroundings when the other senses are not appropriate. Some animals rely on the sense of touch more than others do. Typically, animals with a very poor sense of sight develop an exquisite sense of touch.

The sense of touch is the first sensory pathway that develops in animals. The sense of touch distinguishes between a variety of physical stimuli, including temperature, pressure and texture. This helps animals find food by touch in locations where eyesight provides no help. For example, many fish and turtles that live in murky water rely heavily on their sense of touch to capture prey. Many of these creatures develop antennae or fleshy protuberances that allow them to feel even more objects in their environments.

Humans rely on their sense of touch in many ways, such as determining the temperature of water, determining the freshness or ripeness of fruit, or feeling the texture of an article of clothing. The sense of touch also helps to alert people to injuries they have incurred. The sensation of pain helps to alert people to physically traumatic stimuli so that they can rectify the problem.