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Keywords:

  • white-eared opossum;
  • hair morphology;
  • scanning electron microscopy;
  • taxidermy;
  • digestion

Abstract

Hair morphology has been studied and applied in several subjects, such as food quality control, archaeology, criminology, and ecology. Although medullar and scale patterns of hair structure are well known for a variety of mammal species, the effects of hazardous conditions on the internal and external morphology of hair are not known. In the present work, white-eared opossum (Didelphis albiventris) hairs were submitted to taxidermy, digestion, and putrefaction processes, and afterwards their structure was compared to control hairs, under the scanning electron microscope and light microscope. The results obtained indicate that the processes tested do not cause damage to the medullar and scale patterns of the opossum's hairs. In conclusion, based on the experiments with D. albiventris hairs, it is possible to compare hairs from museum collections or freshly collected hairs to hairs found in scats, gut contents, pellets, or other sources.