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In a species I am designing, they have eyesight similar to a cats, their vision at a distance is excellent, but the closer you get, the blurrier the vision is. One solution I had for this was for them to have whiskers, akin to felines.

But of course, being a crazy person, I couldn't stop there, I had to wonder if antennae would work? What evolutionary history would support a mammal having antennae?

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  • $\begingroup$ Antennae to do what? Smell, sense vibrations, sense electric or magnetic fields, etc? $\endgroup$ – John Feltz Sep 6 '16 at 18:25
  • $\begingroup$ Antennae are the insect equivalent of the nose, as it is the primary olfactory sense. Mammals already have noses and many use them to compensate for poor vision or in low-light conditions. So, are your mammals nose-less, or are you asking if their antennae could be used in other ways? $\endgroup$ – rek Sep 6 '16 at 18:25
  • $\begingroup$ I think my reasoning on this answer applies here just as well, since I focused on the extented limb portion. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Sep 6 '16 at 18:29
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    $\begingroup$ Note to all: this is very similar to your earlier question so people should refer to that so as to not duplicate details. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Sep 6 '16 at 18:31
  • $\begingroup$ @JohnFeltz I'm looking for smell or vibrations. $\endgroup$ – TrEs-2b Sep 6 '16 at 18:33
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The use for an antenna begs what use a human would have for knowing where its forehead is. As we don't really walk with our head leading, I would think it would be more important for a farsighted human to have more, longer, or more dexterous fingers, or more arms. A human that evolved from a subterranean, digging primate might have something like an antenna or "feeler" organ related to its mechanism for burrowing. Now that I'm thinking about it, unless you're dead-set on antennae, you can characterize the need to feel what's directly around the human with whiskers, or abundant, long, frizzy head hair.

EDIT: Somehow I read "human" in the question when it wasn't present. So generally speaking, a burrowing, subterranean, or cave-living mammal that moves with its head leading would get some use out of head antennae, and as mentioned elsewhere, if your mammal had no obvious nose. There's maybe zero extant exmaples of this in real mammals, so you could write it as large, pronounced hair follicles. There's no good way to represent smell in a similar fashion.

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  • $\begingroup$ I never said anything about them being human. Only that they were mammals $\endgroup$ – TrEs-2b Sep 6 '16 at 18:34
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Platypuses (whose plural form is debated) use electrolocation. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus#Electrolocation . These odd little mammals have rows of electroreceptors in their bill. Perhaps if your species's sense of electrolocation develops enough, the sensors would appear as antennae.

Edit: Why the down vote? I believe the original question asked for evolutionary support for mammals developing antennae. While it's a leap from subcutaneous electrolocation sensors to visible antennae, such leaps are what makes evolution.

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  • $\begingroup$ While not me, I think it relates to the fact that eletrolocation has nothing to do way anntenae $\endgroup$ – TrEs-2b Sep 7 '16 at 21:15

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