Gross and Microscopic Observations on the Lingual Structure of the West Indian Manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris)


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Virginia Tech


The West Indian manatee tongue was examined macroscopically, light microscopically, and electron microscopically (scanning and transmission). The tongue was slender, muscular, and firmly fixed in the oral cavity. Only the cranial tip was free and mobile. Numerous filiform papillae were distributed over the dorsal surface of the rostral lingual region. Caudal to the filiform papillae, multiple raised, round papillae were distributed over the majority of the dorsum. Fungiform papillae were restricted to the lateral margins of the tongue. Caudally, the dorsal and lateral regions showed numerous open fossae and pits. Microscopic examination showed the majority of the lingual dorsum to be covered with a thick stratified squamous epithelium. The caudal dorsal and lateral open pits led to well-developed mucous salivary glands. Foliate papillae, located on the caudal region of the tongue, contained taste buds embedded in the epidermis. Glands within the foliate papillae were mostly mucous, though some seromucous glands were evident. Throughout the tongue, striated muscle was abundant below the epidermis. Blood vessels, lymph channels, and nerve fibers were freely distributed throughout the intermuscular stroma. Nerve fibers reacted positively with neuron specific enolase antibody throughout the lingual structure, including nerve bundles, muscle bundles, glands, and taste buds. Electron microscopy revealed cytoplasmic vacuoles juxtaposed to the nucleus in the stratum spinosum of the foliate papillary region.



Tongue, Taste buds, Papillae, Manatee