Bennett, Albert F. Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Irvine, California.
Last reviewed:August 2021
Show previous versions
- Structure of mammalian skin
- Thermoregulation in mammals
- Evolution of vertebrate skin and scales
- Dermal structures
- Functional role of skin
- Water loss from amphibian skin
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
The entire outer surface of a vertebrate animal (including humans), and the principal boundary between the external environment and the body's internal environment of cells and fluids. Skin (Fig. 1) serves as the primary barrier against the intrusion of foreign elements and organisms into the body of a vertebrate animal (including humans). It also serves as a large and complex sense organ through which vertebrates explore and learn about the external world. In addition, skin functions to maintain the homeostasis of the body's constituents, acting as a barrier to the loss of various ions and nutrients by diffusion. In certain animals, skin also serves as a minor excretory organ to rid the body of wastes and excess salts (via sweat glands). Importantly, for terrestrial vertebrate animals, it acts as an effective barrier to water loss, without which most land animals would rapidly become desiccated and die. In general, the skin of vertebrates can be divided into epidermal and dermal regions. However, the detailed anatomy within this basic bilayer organization differs among the various vertebrate groups (classes). See also: Cutaneous sensation; Homeostasis; Sensation; Sense organ; Skin disorders; Vertebrata
The content above is only an excerpt.
for your institution. Subscribe
To learn more about subscribing to AccessScience, or to request a no-risk trial of this award-winning scientific reference for your institution, fill in your information and a member of our Sales Team will contact you as soon as possible.
to your librarian. Recommend
Let your librarian know about the award-winning gateway to the most trustworthy and accurate scientific information.
AccessScience provides the most accurate and trustworthy scientific information available.
Recognized as an award-winning gateway to scientific knowledge, AccessScience is an amazing online resource that contains high-quality reference material written specifically for students. Contributors include more than 10,000 highly qualified scientists and 46 Nobel Prize winners.
MORE THAN 8700 articles covering all major scientific disciplines and encompassing the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science & Technology and McGraw-Hill Yearbook of Science & Technology
115,000-PLUS definitions from the McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms
3000 biographies of notable scientific figures
MORE THAN 19,000 downloadable images and animations illustrating key topics
ENGAGING VIDEOS highlighting the life and work of award-winning scientists
SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER STUDY and additional readings to guide students to deeper understanding and research
LINKS TO CITABLE LITERATURE help students expand their knowledge using primary sources of information