Skin

Skin is the soft outer covering of vertebrates. 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 the largest 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. All mammals have some hair on their skin, even marine mammals which appear to be hairless. The skin is one of the most important parts of the body because it 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 and excessive water loss. 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 in 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 4 mm thick and the thickest skin in the body.

Fur is dense hair. 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 fish have hard protective scales on their skin for protection, and birds have hard feathers, all made of tough β-keratins. Amphibian skin is not a strong barrier to passage of chemicals and is often subject to osmosis. For example, a frog sitting in an anesthetic solution could quickly go to sleep.

Read more about Skin:  Functions, Mammalian Skin Layers, In Fish and Amphibians, In Birds and Reptiles, Mechanics, Human Uses and Culture, Detailed Cross Section

Famous quotes containing the word skin:

    All we need is a meteorologist who has once been soaked to the skin without ill effect. No one can write knowingly of the weather who walks bent over on wet days.
    —E.B. (Elwyn Brooks)

    The hand I burned and whose skin is shriveled like that of a mummy’s is less sensitive than the other to cold or heat. My soul is the same; it passed through fire.
    Gustave Flaubert (1821–1880)

    The snake that cannot shed its skin perishes. Likewise those spirits who are prevented from changing their opinions; they cease to be spirits.
    Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900)