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Dog hair under microscope
When viewed with a low power objective, under phase contrast, the microscopic appearance of dog hair is characterized by a high concentration of a light-reflecting material embedded in a much lower concentration of dark, fibrous protein. The phase contrast gives the hair a characteristic "scalloped" pattern as the light reflections are disturbed by the protein content.
A hair fiber is made up of cuticle, cortex, and medulla. In the hair fiber, the light-reflecting portion of the hair is made up of fibrous proteins, called the cuticle and cortex. These two tissues, cuticle and cortex, provide the appearance of the hair in the phase contrast microscope.
The cuticle is the outermost skin layer of the hair. The cuticle is typically made up of a thin, waxy protein called "ectoderm" that is deposited on a thicker, less-waxy protein called the "endoderm". The cuticle is made up of two layers: a waxy outer portion and a protein-rich inner portion.
The endoderm is the inner layer of the hair, surrounding the medulla, and is the most important part of the hair. The protein portion of the endoderm serves as a structural support for the hair, as it keeps the fibrous proteins in their proper location. The endoderm is also where the pigments for the hair are found.
The medulla is the innermost part of the hair. This region of the hair is responsible for providing the strength and flexibility of the hair. The medulla is the part of the hair that gives the hair its strength, and it is made up of the most protein content in the hair. The protein that make up the medulla are called "gelatinous proteins".
The cuticle provides the appearance of the hair.
The pigments give the hair its color, and are found in the medulla.
The cuticle of the hair forms a semi-permeable, waxy barrier that blocks water from entering the cortex. This allows the hair shaft to be dry while still retaining its own moisture. An absence of the cuticle's protective properties would allow moisture from other sources to be absorbed through the shaft.
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