2014 Volume 76 Issue 5 Pages 667-675
The hair microstructures of Korean terrestrial mammals from 23 species (22 wild and one domestic) were analyzed using light and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) to construct a hair identification key. The hairs were examined using the medulla structures and cuticular scales of guard hairs from the dorsal regions of mature adult animals. All cuticular scale structures in the hair of Rodentia, Lagomorpha, Carnivora and Insectivora showed the petal pattern, and those of Artiodactyla and Chiroptera showed the wave pattern and coronal pattern, respectively. Rodentia, Lagomorpha and Carnivora showed multicellular, and Insectivora and Artiodactyla showed unicellular regular, mesh or columnar in the medulla structures, respectively. Chiroptera did not show the medulla structures in their hair. We found that it is possible to distinguish between species and order based on general appearance, medulla structures and cuticular scales. Thus, we constructed a hair identification key with morphological characteristics from each species. This study suggests that hair identification keys could be useful in fields, such as forensic science, food safety and foraging ecology.