Comparison of vertebrate skin structure at class level: A review
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The skin is a barrier between the internal and external environment of an organism. Depending on the species, it participates in multiple functions. The skin is the organ that holds the body together, covers and protects it, and provides communication with its environment. It is also the body's primary line of defense, especially for anamniotes. All vertebrates have multilayered skin composed of three main layers: the epidermis, the dermis, and the hypodermis. The vital mission of the integument in aquatic vertebrates is mucus secretion. Cornification began in apmhibians, improved in reptilians, and endured in avian and mammalian epidermis. The feather, the most ostentatious and functional structure of avian skin, evolved in the Mesozoic period. After the extinction of the dinosaurs, birds continued to diversify, followed by the enlargement, expansion, and diversification of mammals, which brings us to the most complicated skin organization of mammals with differing glands, cells, physiological pathways, and the evolution of hair. Throughout these radical changes, some features were preserved among classes such as basic dermal structure, pigment cell types, basic coloration genetics, and similar sensory features, which enable us to track the evolutionary path. The structural and physiological properties of the skin in all classes of vertebrates are presented. The purpose of this review is to go all the way back to the agnathans and follow the path step by step up to mammals to provide a comparative large and updated survey about vertebrate skin in terms of morphology, physiology, genetics, ecology, and immunology.