The gland can be compound tubular or compound tubuloalveolar, and the fluid it secretes (mucous, serous or lipid) varies between different groups of animals. In some animals it acts as an accessory to the lacrimal gland, secreting fluid that eases movement of the nictitating membrane. Research has proposed that the gland has several other functions, including that of a photoprotective organ, a location of immune response, a source of thermoregulatory lipids, a source of pheromones, a site of osmoregulation, et al. In mammals, the gland excrete an oily substance used to preen the fur. The presence or absence of this gland is one of the cues used by palaeontologists to determine when fur evolved in the ancestors of mammals.
The Harderian gland was first described in 1694 by Swiss anatomist Johann Jacob Harder (1656–1711). He documented his findings in a paper titled Glandula nova lachrymalis una cum ductu excretorio in cervis et damis, ("A new lachrymal gland with an excretory duct in red and fallow deer", English translation).
- Mondofacto Dictionary (definition of eponym)
- Payne, AP (1994). "The harderian gland: A tercentennial review". Journal of anatomy 185 (1): 1–49. PMC 1166813. PMID 7559104.
- Ruben, J.A.; Jones, T.D. (2000). "Selective Factors Associated with the Origin of Fur and Feathers." (PDF). Amer. Zool. 40 (4): 585–596. doi:10.1093/icb/40.4.585.
- The Ocular Surface Volume 7, Issue 3 , Pages 121-127 , July 2009 Tear Apparatus of Animals: Do They Weep?
- NCBI Department of Biology, College of Charleston A new lachrymal gland with an excretory duct in red and fallow deer" by Johann jacob Harder (1694): English translation and historical perspective, by Hillenius WJ, Phillips DA, Rehorek SJ.
- Harderian Gland of Wistar Rats Revised by Edmyr Rosa dos Reis, et al.
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