Hair and Feathers: Do They Share The Same Roots?

Are hair, scales and feathers all related to each other?


Russian biologists from Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution have conducted long-term research of hair, feathers and scales, and are fairly certain that all three structures appeared independently and were never related to one another. It does seem odd that there would be so much research concerning this subject, and the impetus behind the research seems to lie in the premise that if scales and feathers and hairs are all independent by products of evolution, then why do they have so many properties in common. The expensive but still tentative answer is that structures composed of the same tissues that have the same functions are intrinsically similar.

What functions do hair, scales and feathers serve within the animal kingdom?

Feathers and hairs appear to protect an organism from the temperature extremes of both cold and heat. Hairy ancestors of mammals and flying dinosaurs with feathers appeared for the first time about 200 million years ago. Keratin skin appendages, scales, feathers and hairs are created by the interaction of two skin layers: external ectoderm and underlying mesoderm.

What is The Institute of Ecology and Evolution of the Russian Academy of Sciences?

Established in 1934, by academician, A.M. Severtsov, this is one of the leading biological institutes in Russia today. It is a matrix for problems and issues concerning general ecology, biological diversity, ethology, animal ecology and evolutionary morphology. The data gleaned from the Institute is utilized in various branches of Russia’s economy including conservation, game management, fishery and fish farming. The Institute has 42 laboratories where its prodigious staff carries on its many experiments.

Will there be future experiments on the issue of hair, scales and feathers and their connection to one another?

Since the question has not been completely answered and all aspects of the issue have not been scientifically explored, researchers are planning next to analyze data concerning the biological process of keratinization, which involves the hardening of the texture of skin cells. This takes place in the external covers of birds and mammals and biologists seek to prove or disprove the hypothesis about the primal function of feathers and hairs being the extraction of excessive sulfur from an organism.

It would seem the whole world will remain with bated breath for the results of this study.

Cures for cancer and other deadly diseases will just have to wait their turn, won’t they?