Do Fish Have Tongues? Interesting Facts For Curious Kids | Kidadl

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Do Fish Have Tongues? Interesting Facts For Curious Kids

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Most seafood lovers like eating fish regularly.

While eating fish food, our mouth waters with its taste. Thanks to our tongues, we can taste this tasty food in our mouths.

How about the fishes then? Do they get to taste their prey as we do? Do they have a tongue in their mouth to help them do so? We might have imagined that every creature has a tongue in their mouth to help them taste their food. But sea urchins and sea stars do not have an organ called the tongue. What about a fish? Do fishes have tongues? The answer to this is yes! We will explain this shortly. Along with this, we will also understand the functions of the tongue that a fish has and also some interesting facts related to its taste buds. Without further ado, let us get right into it. Afterward, also read about that do fish have eyelids and do fish have livers?

Do fish have tongues?

Many animals have tongues in their body. The tongue helps the animals recognize the taste of different types of foods. So, you might have this question, do fishes have tongues? Do these species have taste buds on their tongues or any other parts of the body?

Do fishes have tongues? Well, the answer depends on certain things. Firstly, they do have a structure that resembles that of a tongue. But it is different from the tongue seen in the mouths of humans and other mammals. Most fish species have a bony structure called basihyal. This bony structure is considered the tongue of the fishes.

Fishes have tongues but it is not a muscular structure. Their tongues have a bony structure. This bony structure called the fish tongue is located on the floor of the mouth of a fish. In some bony fish species, you can find teeth on this tongue too. The location of the tongue is in the mouth of the fish but the functions of the tongue might differ from the normal tongue functions in other animals.

What do fish tongues look like?

We have already answered the question: do fish have tongues? We now know that fish have tongues. But what do they look like? Is it the same as that of a human tongue? How do the fish tongues appear on the outside?

The tongue of a fish is a bony structure seen on the floor of the fish's mouth. It isn’t muscular so you won't see any muscles in these fish tongues. It has a slight range of motion too. The fish’s tongue is more like an extension of the base of its mouth. In some species, these bony tongues are also accompanied by teeth. Although it sounds weird the teeth help to hold the prey, rather than to bite it.

Most fishes do not protrude out their tongue. It is not that they won't but they cannot do so. Some fishes like lamprey can protrude their tongue out of their mouth though. Interestingly, organisms like the isopods of the Ceratothoa genus, called tongue biters, are parasites that feed on these fish tongues. These isopod parasites eat the fish tongues and then replace themselves in that location. Some of these parasites feed on the blood and mucus of the fish too but they don't eat the food particles in the fish's mouth. Fishes may even lose their tongue because of these parasites.

As per science, the position of taste buds in some fishes is located outside their mouth.

The Function Of Tongues In Fish

We already know the function of tongues in our bodies. It helps in chewing and swallowing. We chew food and swallow it easily with the help of our tongues. But are fish tongues also used for chewing and swallowing or is there some other function of their tongue?

Unlike in other mammals, the function of a fish tongue is not to chew and swallow food. It is mainly used to protect the ventral aorta. It is important to protect the ventral aorta from the impacts of large food. Why? Because the ventral aorta is situated very close to the mouth. The ventral aorta is the artery in fish that carries blood from the heart. Any damage to this ventral aorta from the fish’s prey could cause serious problems. So, fish have tongues to protect the ventral aorta from such harm.

There are other uses the fish has of these tongues. It helps in easy transport of the food from the mouth. It also helps in moving oxygenated water through the fish gills. The fish gills and tongue do collaborative work here. It also sometimes helps in chewing food although that is not the main function of the tongue.

Do fish have taste buds?

Our muscular tongue is a major bearer of taste buds. We can taste food due to the muscular tongue that we have. Do fish also have taste buds in their tongue?

A fish also has taste buds, just not on its tongue. Fish taste buds are seen inside the mouth of the fish and also outside a fish’s body. The taste buds can survive in the exterior part of the body easily. The taste buds of fish need moisture to survive. Since fishes are always in water, that is not even a cause of concern. Having taste buds in the mouths is seen on all animals but having taste buds on the exterior body is a unique feature of the fish. The taste buds are not just restricted to the mouth of a fish. It is not located in the tongue but inside the mouth. Fishes like catfish have around 100,000 taste buds. If that isn't cool, what is?

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for do fish have tongues then why not take a look at do fish have blood or do fish need oxygen?

The Kidadl Team is made up of people from different walks of life, from different families and backgrounds, each with unique experiences and nuggets of wisdom to share with you. From lino cutting to surfing to children’s mental health, their hobbies and interests range far and wide. They are passionate about turning your everyday moments into memories and bringing you inspiring ideas to have fun with your family.

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