Skin - in Birds and Reptiles

In Birds and Reptiles

The epidermis of birds and reptiles is closer to that of mammals, with a layer of dead keratin-filled cells at the surface, to help reduce water loss. A similar pattern is also seen in some of the more terrestrial amphibians, such as toads. However, in all of these animals there is no clear differentiation of the epidermis into distinct layers, as occurs in humans, with the change in cell type being relatively gradual. The mammalian epidermis always possesses at least a stratum germinativum and stratum corneum, but the other intermediate layers found in humans are not always distinguishable. Hair is a distinctive feature of mammalian skin, while feathers are (at least among living species) similarly unique to birds.

Birds and reptiles have relatively few skin glands, although there may be a few structures for specific purposes, such as pheromone-secreting cells in some reptiles, or the uropygial gland of most birds.

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