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01.03.2018 | Original Article | Ausgabe 2/2018

Anatomical Science International 2/2018

Morphological study of the European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) tongue by SEM and LM

Anatomical Science International > Ausgabe 2/2018
Ghasem Akbari, Mohammad Babaei, Belal Hassanzadeh


The hedgehog tongue is a tactile and taste organ which carries out various functions. Detailed functional and morphological studies are required to clearly define the relationship of the hedgehog tongue with taste, food palatability, mastication and swallowing of food, as well as the production of sounds. The aim of this study was to determine the relationship between the morphological characteristics of the European hedgehog tongue and the lifestyle of this animal, as well as to compare findings with the results of studies on other vertebrates. Gross and micro-anatomical light and scanning electron microscopy studies revealed that the hedgehog tongue could be divided in three areas, namely the apex, body and root. A keratinized stratified squamous epithelium, which was smooth on the ventral surface but bore four types of papillae on the dorsal surface, lined the tongue. Three types of these papillae were found to have gustatory functions and to express their activity in close relation with the salivary glands. These simple conical filiform papillae were situated caudally and distributed one after the other without a break. The dome-shaped fungiform papillae on the apex, with the highest distribution rate on the apex edge, were small, but those on the body and root were large. The three circular vallate papillae were arranged in a triangular shape. The foliate papillae with a few tiny projections, found in a shallow furrow, were situated between the root and the body. Most of the nerve fibers observed in different sections of the tongue tissue were of the unmyelinated type, confirming that the main task of the hedgehog tongue was its gustatory function.

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