Variations in the Thickness and Composition of the Skin of the Giraffe

Author(s)Farzana Sathar, N. Ludo Badlangana, and Paul R. Manger
Year Published2010
JournalThe Anatomical Record
Page Numbers1615-1627
Size1.20 MB
Abstract:

This study examined the skin of two 1- to 2-year-old male giraffes and one adult male, determining skin thickness and histological structure with reference to it functioning as a component of the features required for the maintenance of blood pressure, dermal armor, or thermoregulation. It has been argued that a tight skin surrounding the extremities of the giraffe aids in the movement of fluid against gravity, hence preventing pooling of blood and tissue fluid (edema), but the skin has also been implicated in the thermoregulatory capacities and defensive anatomy of many mammalian species. In one of the younger giraffes, one-half of the skin was analyzed from which close to 170 sites were measured. In the other young and adult giraffes, spot tests to confirm the pattern observed in the fully analyzed individual were undertaken. It was discovered that the skin varied in thickness across the entire body and within regions of the body. Histological evaluation revealed that the skin was mostly collagenous, although interesting patterns of elastic fiber densities were also apparent. The skin in the neck and legs exhibited a morphology that may assist in cardiovascular regulation of blood flow to and from the head and legs, and the skin of the trunk and anterior neck has the possibility of functioning in a protective role. The analyses performed could not add any new data regarding the thermoregulatory role already described for giraffe skin.

Keywords: artiodactyls; hemodynamics; dermal armor; thermoregulation; giraffe

Authors: Farzana Sathar, N. Ludo Badlangana, and Paul R. Manger

Journal: The Anatomical Record


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