By G. H. R. von Koenigswald (auth.), Professor A. B. Chiarelli, Dr. R. S. Corruccini (eds.)
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Additional info for Advanced Views in Primate Biology: Main Lectures of the VIIIth Congress of the International Primatological Society, Florence, 7–12 July, 1980
Such rapid change in the oxidase-reductase area during early primate evolution may account for the differen<;es in cytochrome c activity found between higher primates and nonprimate mammals (Borden et al. 1978). The action of stabilizing selection is seen in the time period between the anthropoid ancestor and the catarrhine ancestor; the molecule was then characterized by an overall slow rate of molecular change, and there were no nucleotide replacements in any functional area of the molecule during that period of time.
The loss of hair cover has placed on human skin the burden of performing many functions not demanded of hairy skin. To begin with, the epidermis, which is thicker in man than in all other primates, has a substantially thicker horny layer than that in furry animals. Moreover, over the entire body it is criss-crossed by many lines whose characteristic patterns reflect the direction of pull and stretch to which the skin is subjected. These congenital wrinkles seem to have two purposes: they expand the body surface and allow the skin to be stretched without reaching a breaking point too quickly.
On its inner surface or underside in contact with the dermis, The Evolution of Human Skin 37 the epidermis is sculptured in such a way as to reflect its topographic location and its corresponding adaptation to that location. Structurally, the uneven topography ofthe epidermal underside accounts for the great variations in thickness and thus provides a richer source of keratinocytes for producing the thick horny layer than if it were flat. We considered this complex structural characteristic uniquely human until we looked at the epidermis of the anthropoid apes.