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The integument of elephants is highly sculptured with wrinkles and crevices arranged in prominent geometric patterns. These features are shown to adsorb water and to facilitate its movement over the body surface. The retention of water attributable to epidermal morphology was quantified by studying latex casts of integumentary surfaces. Retention of water by casts of integument is4–5 to 10 times greater than that of flat surfaces and is greater in African elephants than in Asian elephants. Both species lack sebum and sweat glands and require regular wetting of their skin. However, the skin of African elephants is sculptured more deeply and retains significantly more water than does that of Asian elephants adapted to more mesic habitats. We propose that the highly sculptured morphology functions to enhance retention of surface moisture during periodic wallowing, thereby impeding dehydration of the exposed epidermis and mediating evaporative heat losses. These functions could have great physiological significance during periods of drought when intense heat and solar radiation coincide with limited availability of water.