Special Correspondent

Doctors term it as a `reflex action'

PANAJI: It was a "hair raising" experience of a different kind not the usual bristling of hair associated with horror or anxiety. Closely watched by a team of two doctors in the presence of a dozen of probing cameras of electronic media, senior scientist in marine geology at National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) A.B. Valasangkar demonstrated his feat in "horripilation".

The demonstration was held on Tuesday at recreation room of the CSIR Science Centre at NIO Colony in Dona Paula near here.

Mr. Valasangkar described it as a "bio-medical phenomenon" which he had been practising for past 25 years from the time he realised "he could do it at will." Many of his scientist colleagues from NIO were present. "I give command and the bristling simply happens. They (hair) act," says the 55-year-old scientist who plans to stake a claim for an entry in Limca Book of World Records for his feat.

Describing the phenomenon as "cutis anserina", E.J. Rodrigues of Forensic Department of Goa Medical College said: "This bristling of hair was a reflex action described as goose flesh and goose skin which was seen in bodies, especially of drowning cases where bodies are covered with water or exposed to cold climate. This was even observed in case of bodies which are preserved in a morgue." Kalpana Chodankar of NIO said this phenomenon occurred in mammals. Describing it as a protective instinct, she said: "Normally it is a reflex action with the person having no control over it."

The two doctors said: "We have observed the cutis anserina phenomenon, it is very obvious. It lasted for about two minutes."