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These are long chain protein structures which are strongly cross-linked but do not branch. They have a white, glistening appearance, demonstrating faint longitudinal striations under light microscopy. When not under direct tension they appear to have a slight wavy appearance. Collagen is a large family of molecules, approximately ten different types of collagen are presently recognized. They are present in varying abundance in all types of connective tissue, forming the predominant fiber of connective tissue proper. They also are major components to cartilage and bone. The characteristic functional feature of collagen is its high tensile strength with little elastic recoil.
Collagen takes its name from the Greek term kolla meaning glue. By boiling the tissues, early anatomists used this portion of connective tissue as a glue.