Before we look at 7 major functions of animal hair, what is animal hair? Be it guard hair, under-fur, or tactile hair(whisker), one thing you have to know is that they all are animal hair and perform different functions. These functions could be as a result of their location on the body, color, length, texture, or even a pattern of arrangements. whichever reason it might be, the major concern is that it has a function it performs both for the animal that possesses it and the other external benefactors.
What Is Animal Hair?
Generally, animal hair is referred to as FUR “a fine, soft and hairy outer part covering most mammals” reason being that it is denser and lengthier than the normal hair, and could be put into diverse use.
Functions Of Animal Hair
Thermo-regulation is the first and most important function of animal hair(fur). It is the ability to maintain the same body temperature, regardless of the temperature of the environment which the animal finds itself. This is Possible because of the fact that animal hair(fur) constitutes of the oily guard hair, which is found in the topmost layer of the animal skin.
It helps to keep moisture off the skin. Directly below the guard hair is the underfur; acting as an insulator to warm up the animal, it protects the animal from harsh weather conditions; of which after every harsh weather like rain or snow, it sheds off. finally, let’s not forget the down fur (villi) insulating the newly born of mammals.
Another important function of animal hair (fur) is the sensory purpose. This function is linked solely to the vibrissae. It is longer than other types of animal hair. What it does mainly is that it gives tactile sensation, that is; sensitivity to touch and light, owing to the fact that a large portion of the animal brain is devoted to processing nerve impulse from the vibrissae.
The vibrissae are also an additional advantage to animals that can’t fully depend only on their sight during the search for food; especially animals that are most active at night. Bristles which is the name in lion also has long hair like the vibrissae, and aid in right signals for lion.
Camouflage is yet another function of the animal hair (fur), the colors of the hair and it’s a pattern of arrangement can serve as a way for the animal to hide away from predators or at attracting to self. The color and pattern of the animal hair(fur), gives it the advantage of thriving in its environment, through being able to camouflage against predators and for prey.
A defence mechanism is another good example of the function of animal hair, most especially stiff guard hair found in Porcupine known as Quills (2). The Porcupine defends itself using the Quills with the method of raising the quails when it senses of any danger, penetrating it into the body of its a predator and keeping it strong and firm using Barb.
On the part of external benefactors, humans which are the top benefactors, use animal hair for different purposes including decoration and beautification of both the human body and other things.
For example, they wear it as cloth in other to protect their body from cold weather or the harsh sun. Similarly, it can be used to beautify and protect other things, including the comfort certain animal hair gives due to it’s soft and hairy texture.
Another external function of the animal hair (fur) includes; monetary benefit for those who process it into other options, including turning them into clothing, decor materials, which they sell at a good profit to make ends meet. As this manufacturer and processor keep going bigger they create job opportunities for others, which is yet another function the animal hair has.
Specific animal hair (fur) also symbolizes superiority. Humans use certain animal hairs like that of a lion, tiger, and so on, to symbolize power and authority. Back in the days of king and queen leadership, the nobles wore it or hung it on the walls of their palace as a symbol of leadership.
In conclusion, whatever function the animal hair(fur) undertakes both internal and external, one good thing about it is that it is natural and never really gets out of style for external benefactors and no matter the length of the animal hair(fur), it definitely performs its own function to the core.