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Melanin

  • M. Thomas
Chapter
  • 233 Downloads
Part of the Handbuch der Pflanzenphysiologie / Encyclopedia of Plant Physiology book series (532, volume 8)

Abstract

By the middle of the nineteenth century several terms having the Greek prefix μέλας were in common use in Medicine, Ethnology, and Zoology, for describing the production of dark brown and black pigments, and also for the pigments themselves. Men with black hair and dark complexions were said to be melanic. In Pathology, the abnormal development of black pigment in some tissues, for example those of black cancers, was called melanosis. The colour was attributed to a substance named melanose. The term melanism was coined to describe the darkness of colour which frequently appears in excessive amounts in the epidermis, hair, feathers etc. of healthy animals. The chemical compound responsible for melanism was given the name melanin. Later in the century some authors used this name to describe the black pigment produced in melanotic diseases.

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© Springer-Verlag oHG. Berlin · Göttingen · Heidelberg 1958

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  • M. Thomas

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