Have you ever wondered about the structure of a hedgehog spine? Some say they are hairs that have grown together. Others say that the spines are hollow inside.
The truth is that both hair and hedgehog spines consist mainly of the structural protein keratin. However, hedgehog spines are composed of many hollow chambers that provide both stability and flexibility: small ones at the edge, large ones in the center of the spine.
Hedgehog spine cross-section in strucTEM-Measure:
Interesting facts about the hedgehog (Erinaceidae):
An adult spiny hedgehog has up to 9000 spines. They are sharper than pins and point crisscross in all directions when the hedgehog curls up.
Fortunately, the baby hedgehog does not prick its mother at birth: the spines are still under the skin.
In Asia there are spineless hedgehogs- the moonrats. And native hedgehogs – with or without spines – do not exist neither in America nor Australia.
Part 3/7: Hair in the strucTEM microscope
A hair image series by strucTEM, specialist for microscopic hair analysis