Skin

Skin is the layer of usually soft, flexible outer tissue covering the body of a vertebrate animal, with three main functions: protection, regulation, and sensation.[1]

Skin
Skin of an elephant
Details
Identifiers
LatinCutis
MeSHD012867
TA98A16.0.00.002
TA27041
Anatomical terminology

Other animal coverings, such as the arthropod exoskeleton, have different developmental origin, structure and chemical composition. The adjective cutaneous means "of the skin" (from Latin cutis 'skin'). In mammals, the skin is an organ of the integumentary system made up of multiple layers of ectodermal tissue and guards the underlying muscles, bones, ligaments, and internal organs. Skin of a different nature exists in amphibians, reptiles, and birds.[2] Skin (including cutaneous and subcutaneous tissues) plays crucial roles in formation, structure, and function of extraskeletal apparatus such as horns of bovids (e.g., cattle) and rhinos, cervids' antlers, giraffids' ossicones, armadillos' osteoderm, and os penis/os clitoris.[3]

All mammals have some hair on their skin, even marine mammals like whales, dolphins, and porpoises that appear to be hairless. The skin interfaces with the environment and is the first line of defense from external factors. For example, the skin plays a key role in protecting the body against pathogens[4] and excessive water loss.[5] Its other functions are insulation, temperature regulation, sensation, and the production of vitamin D folates. Severely damaged skin may heal by forming scar tissue. This is sometimes discoloured and depigmented. The thickness of skin also varies from location to location on an organism. In humans, for example, the skin located under the eyes and around the eyelids is the thinnest skin on the body at 0.5 mm thick and is one of the first areas to show signs of aging such as "crows feet" and wrinkles. The skin on the palms and the soles of the feet is the thickest skin on the body as 4 mm thick. The speed and quality of wound healing in skin is promoted by the reception of estrogen.[6][7][8]

Fur is dense hair.[9] Primarily, fur augments the insulation the skin provides but can also serve as a secondary sexual characteristic or as camouflage. On some animals, the skin is very hard and thick and can be processed to create leather. Reptiles and most fish have hard protective scales on their skin for protection, and birds have hard feathers, all made of tough beta-keratins. Amphibian skin is not a strong barrier, especially regarding the passage of chemicals via skin, and is often subject to osmosis and diffusive forces. For example, a frog sitting in an anesthetic solution would be sedated quickly as the chemical diffuses through its skin. Amphibian skin plays key roles in everyday survival and their ability to exploit a wide range of habitats and ecological conditions.[10]


Share this article:

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Skin, and is written by contributors. Text is available under a CC BY-SA 4.0 International License; additional terms may apply. Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.