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Human Hair with Split Ends

Human Hair with Split Ends

This is a terminal segment of a Human Hair. The hair has been severely damaged by washing, which has removed the cuticle. In the absence of the cuticle and with the caustic action of the soap the individual elongated cells that make up the hair are no longer bound together and have split apart.

Transmitted Oblique Off-Crossed Circular Polarized Light Illumination


Mammalian hair is composed of a protein, keratin. It is the same protein that makes horn, fingernails, claws, skin epithelium, and dander. Mammalian hair consists of three distinct morphological units, the cuticle, the cortex and the medulla. The distinctive pattern shown by these units varies over the length of the hair in a way that can be very characteristic. The patterns exhibited by these units in any given hair are often sufficient to identify the genus, the species, or even the individual that the hair came from.

Significance in the Environment:

Human hair tends to be repeatedly and often exposed to harsh chemical treatments, including washing with soap and water. The cuticle is affected by these treatments and breaks down, no longer maintaining the integrety of the hair. Split ends are the result. Split ends are very common in human hair and relatively rare in hair from other animals.

Characteristic Features:

Associated Particles:


References with Photographs and/or Drawings

Hausman, Leon Augustus, "Structural charactreistics of the hair of mammals", THE AMERICAN NATURALIST, vol. 54, no. 635, pp.496-523,

Hausman, Leon Augustus, "Recent studies of hair structure relationships", THE SCIENTIFIC MONTHLY, pp. 258-277,

Glaister, John, A STUDY OF HAIRS AND WOOLS, Misr Press, Cairo, 1931.

FBI site for Animal Hair Identification:

Keys Only

Mayer, William V., "The hair of California mammals with keys to the dorsal guard hairs of California mammals", THE AMERICAN MIDLAND NATURALIST, vol. 48, no. 2, pp. 480-512, 1952.

Stains, Howard J., "Field key to guard hair of middle western furbearers", JOURNAL OF WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT, vol. 22, no.1, pp. 95-97, January, 1958.

Mathiak, Harold A., "A key to hairs of the mammals of southern Michigan", JOURNAL OF WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT, vol. 2, no. 4, pp. 251-268, October, 1938.