Structure of the sinus hair follicle in the big-clawed shrew, Sorex unguiculatus

J Morphol. 1977 Aug;153(2):333-53. doi: 10.1002/jmor.1051530211.


The structural features of sinus hair follicles in Sorex unguiculatus were studied by macroscopic dissection, serial section light microscopy and electron microscopy. The shrew has about 540 sinus hairs regularly arranged on the snout. The maxillary nerves innervating them are extremely thick, while the optic nerves are very thin. Thus the follicle must be one of the most important sense organs in this animal. In the follicle the ring sinus is well-development and the trabeculae of the cavernous sinus are reduced in number and thickness. The ring bulge is not a unified structure but a pair of bodies which consist of head, stalk and attachment plaque. It is characterized by the presence of numerous thick collagen fibrils (400 nm) and appears to be mechanically rigid. Lanceolate nerve terminals, free endings, Merkel cells with nerve terminals and unmyelinated fibers are observed, but encapsulated endings are lacking in and aound the follicles. Straight lanceolate terminals on the posterior side of the follicle are thick and three-sided in cross section, while those on the anterior side are thin and two-sided. Free endings are located on the anterior side of the follicle. These and other findings are discussed on the basis of the assumption that the Sorex sinus hair follicle is more specialized as a vibrating system than in other mammals.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Hair / anatomy & histology*
  • Nerve Endings / anatomy & histology
  • Nose / anatomy & histology*
  • Shrews / anatomy & histology*
  • Skin / anatomy & histology
  • Skin / innervation