Social Functions

The integumentary system plays an important role in the social relations of all vertebrate animals by enabling them to identify members of their own species and distinguish the sexes. Some mammals recognize each other by the color and distribution of hair. Animals may also accept or reject one another's company and choose mates based on the appearance of the integument, which may indicate an animal's state of health. Thus, it is not surprising that animals allocate a lot of time to grooming.

Humans are no exception. A little reflection will emphasize just how much impact an integumentary condition can have on someone's self-image and emotional state—whether the ravages of adolescent acne, the presence of a birthmark or scar, or just a "bad hair day." The skin is also our most significant means of nonverbal communication. The faces of primates are far more expressive than those of other mammals because complex skeletal muscles insert on dermal collagen fibers and create subtle and varied facial expressions (fig. 6.7). Thus the skin has very important psychological and social functions.

Before You Go On

Answer the following questions to test your understanding of the preceding section:

  1. How does the skin inhibit the growth of pathogens on its surface?
  2. To what things besides pathogenic organisms does the skin present a barrier?
  3. Describe two ways in which the skin helps to regulate body temperature.
Skin How Does Regulate Heat

Figure 6.7 Importance of the Skin in Nonverbal Expression.

Primates differ from other mammals in having very expressive faces due to facial muscles that insert on the collagen fibers of the dermis and move the skin.

Figure 6.7 Importance of the Skin in Nonverbal Expression.

Primates differ from other mammals in having very expressive faces due to facial muscles that insert on the collagen fibers of the dermis and move the skin.

Was this article helpful?

0 0
Essentials of Human Physiology

Essentials of Human Physiology

This ebook provides an introductory explanation of the workings of the human body, with an effort to draw connections between the body systems and explain their interdependencies. A framework for the book is homeostasis and how the body maintains balance within each system. This is intended as a first introduction to physiology for a college-level course.

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment