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Abstract

The skin of the giraffe has the same general histological structure as that of other mammals, but there are notable features. The skin is heavily pigmented with the epidermis, pilary canals, and the outer cell layer of the apocrine duct richly melanized. Furthermore, melanotic dendritic cells are frequently found in the sebaceous glands, the entire length of the external root sheath, and the secretory tubules of the apocrine glands. The thick skin has a papillary dermis that extends to just beneath the secretory coils of the apocrine glands and bulbs of hair follicles and an equally thick reticular layer below these structures. The hair follicles do not grow in clusters, and with some regional variations, have associated sebaceous glands, apocrine glands, and arrectores pilorum muscles. Only the large hairs have a prominent medulla. In such specialized regions as the eyelids, nose, and lips, the apocrine glands are surrounded by cholinesterase-reactive nerves but the glands on the general body surface are not. The only specialized nerve receptors are hair follicle end organs found on every hair of the eyelids, nose, and lips, but only rarely elsewhere.