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Reptilian skin and its special histological structures

Rutland, Catrin Sian; Cigler, Pia; Kubale Dvojmoč, Valentina

Reptilian skin and its special histological structures Thumbnail


Pia Cigler

Valentina Kubale Dvojmoč


Valentina Kubale Dvojmoč


Reptilian skin is covered with scales forming armor that makes it watertight and enables reptiles to live on land in contrast to amphibians. An important part of the skin is the horny epidermis, with thick stratum corneum in which waxes are arranged in membrane-like layers. In lizards and snakes, the whole skin is covered in overlapping epidermal scales and in turtles and crocodiles in dermal scutes. The cornified part of the epidermis is strengthened by β-keratin and sometimes α-keratin. In crocodiles and many turtles, the outer scale surface consists of β-keratin and the hinge region containing α-keratin. In lizards and snakes, both keratins form continuous layers with the α-keratin below the β-keratin. Some reptiles have developed a sensitive mechanosensory system in the skin. The colors of reptile skin are produced by melanocytes and three types of chromatophores: melanophores, xanthophores, and iridophores. The color patterns may be fixed or the chromatophores may provide rapid color change. Skin from different species of reptiles, turtles (red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans)), snakes (Emerald tree boa (Corallus caninus) and Burmese python (Python bivittatus)), Cuvier’s dwarf caiman (Paleosuchus palpebrosus), lizards (Leopard Gecko (Eublepharis macularius)), and Green iguana (Iguana iguana), were examined with histology techniques and compared.


Rutland, C. S., Cigler, P., & Kubale Dvojmoč, V. (2019). Reptilian skin and its special histological structures. In C. S. Rutland, & V. Kubale Dvojmoč (Eds.), Veterinary anatomy and physiology (1-21). InTech.

Acceptance Date Jan 7, 2019
Online Publication Date Mar 13, 2019
Publication Date Mar 13, 2019
Deposit Date Mar 14, 2019
Publicly Available Date Mar 14, 2019
Journal Veterinary Anatomy and Physiology
Publisher InTech
Pages 1-21
Book Title Veterinary anatomy and physiology
Chapter Number 8
ISBN 9781789857054
Keywords Skin; Histology; Reptiles; Special features
Public URL
Publisher URL


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