Functional-morphological and biochemical correlations of the keratinized structures in the African Grey Parrot, Psittacus erithacus (Aves)

Dominique G. Homberger, Louisiana State University
Alan H. Brush, University of Connecticut


Keratinized structures from the African Grey Parrot (feather, down, claw, scale, rhamphotheca, soft lingual epithelium, and lingual nail) were compard by combining biochemical and functional-morphological approaches. At the molecular level, the keratinized structures of Psittacus erithacus are organized essentially like those of other avian species. Correlations were established (or verified) between the mechanical properties of the tissues and the molecular size of the keratin monomers, between the mechanical properties and the x-ray diffraction patterns of the tissues, and between the Polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (PAGE) patterns of the keratins and certain aspects of growth patterns of the structures. The keratin proteins of the lingual nail, described here for the first time, resemble those of the claw and rhamphotheca. Morphological, biochemical and functional differences between the lingual nail and the rest of the lingual epithelium were established. © 1986 Springer-Verlag.