My 4yo has recently figured out how to roll her tongue into a tube-shape. She’s delighted with this new skill but now wants to know all about how her tongue works. So for delight and enjoyment, here’s a set of interesting facts and figures about tongues!
The tongue is an important part of the body because you need it for chewing and swallowing food, as well as for talking. Some people also like to use their tongues for kissing!
The tongue is joined to the hyoid bone at the back of the throat and it is held in place by lots of connective tissues in the mouth. It has lots of blood vessels and nerves and is sensitive to touch (just think how much it hurts if you accidentally bite your tongue!); and it is kept nice and moist by the saliva (or spit) produced inside the mouth.
Tongues are covered in tiny bumps called ‘papillae’, which make them feel rough to the touch. These papillae are covered in tastebuds – there are between 2000 and 4000 tastebuds on a grown-up human tongue! Tastebuds detect the tastes of foods and send information to your brain about what you are eating. There are five types of taste that the human tongue can detect: sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami (or savoury).
In many countries, blowing a raspberry with your tongue or poking your tongue out at someone else is considered to be rude – but in Tibet, sticking your tongue out is a way of saying ‘hello’ to someone!
Lots of animals have tongues, which they use for chewing and swallowing food. Some animals, like cats and dogs, also use their tongues to lick themselves and each other as a way of keeping clean.
Tongues aren’t just good for eating with, some of them are good for eating! The tongues of cows, pigs and ducks are eaten as a food in some countries.
If these tongue facts whet your appetite, you might like to read more about tongues here!