Ultrastructure and wear patterns of the ventral epidermis of four snake species (Squamata, Serpentes)

Klein, Marie-Christin G. and Gorb, Stanislav (2014) Ultrastructure and wear patterns of the ventral epidermis of four snake species (Squamata, Serpentes) Zoology, 117 (5). pp. 295-314.

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Abstract

Snakes are limbless tetrapods highly specialized for sliding locomotion. This locomotion leads to the skin being exposed to friction loads, especially on the ventral body side, which leads to wear. It is presumed that snakes therefore have specific optimizations for minimizing abrasion. Scales from snakes with habitat, locomotor and/or behavior specializations have specific gradients in material properties that may be due to different epidermal architecture. To approach this issue we examined the skin of Lampropeltis getula californiae (terrestrial), Epicrates cenchria cenchria (generalist), Morelia viridis (arboreal), and Gongylophis colubrinus (burrowing) with a focus on (i) the ultrastructure of the ventral epidermis and (ii) the qualitative abrasion pattern of the ventral scales. Scanning and transmission electron microscopy revealed variations in the structure, thickness, layering, and material composition of the epidermis between the species. Furthermore, SEM and white light interferometer images of the scale surface showed that the abrasion patterns differed, even when the snakes were reared on the same substrate. These data support the idea that (i) a specific gradient in material properties may be due to a variation in epidermis architecture (thickness/ultrastructure) and (ii) this variation may be an optimization of material properties for specific ways of life. (C) 2014 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.

Document Type: Article
Additional Information: Times Cited: 0 0
Research affiliation: Kiel University
OceanRep > The Future Ocean - Cluster of Excellence
Refereed: Yes
ISSN: 0944-2006
Projects: Future Ocean
Date Deposited: 30 Mar 2015 12:21
Last Modified: 03 Nov 2016 12:34
URI: http://eprints.uni-kiel.de/id/eprint/27750

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