A Tui Tongue in the Allen Centre...

Bird tongues are interesting....

Tongues help birds to gather food (after all they don't have thumbs, hands and front legs) and swallow it.

Their tongues are tools as well as tasters. Different types of food require different types of tongues.

Laurie is holding a dead Tui which died with its tongue hanging out.

A Tui has a fringed and feathery brush-tipped tongue to help it gather nectar.

It's a pretty amazing tongue - especially under the microscope!

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The serrated edge of the beak helps with cleaning

feathers.

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The feathery brush tip of the Tui's tongue.

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The back of the tongue is flat and splits into two channels towards

he tip. The nectar from the brush tip travels up the channels.

The soft spikes at the back direct food down the throat.

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The tongue hinge at the entrance to the Tui's throat pushes the

tongue forwards into flowers and then pulls it back again.

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The entrance to the Tui's throat.

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Backward-pointing papillae at the back of the Tui's mouth ensures

the food only goes in one direction.

Tongue-Tools...

Birds can't taste with their tongues as well as humans. Instead their tongues have special touch receptors

Mallard ducks have less than 500 taste buds, compared to the 10,000 in a human and 17,000 in a rabbit.

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Source: Dr David Swanson: http://people.usd.edu

Human tongues are controlled by muscles but a bird's

tonguehas tiny bones along the entire length of it -

that's why it canstick it out so far! 5 larger bones support

the tongue.These bones form the Hyoid apparatus.

You can see some of these bones through the Tui's

transparent flesh in the microscope photographs above.

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A Woodpecker's tongue is almost three times

as long as its beak.The tongue is so long that it

forks in the throat,goes below thebase of the jaw

and wraps behind and overthe top of the head,

where the forked section rejoins andinserts in the

bird’s right nostril or around the eye socket.

Interesting tongues:

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Many song birds like the thrush

have small rear-pointing projections

near the tip oftheir tongues to help

move food to their throats.


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Hummingbirds have tubular tongues

like straws which help them suck up

nectar.


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Filter-feeding water birds have very

elaborate tongues which serve as fine

sieves in the water.

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Woodpeckers' tongues are very

long and are stored deep inside

the skull. The tongues have a spiny

tip for stabbing prey.


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Penguins have tongues covered

in backward pointing spikes to

help in swallowing fish.


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Parrots have thick, swollen tongues

a bit like ours to help them move

food around their mouths and help

them 'talk'.




Museum Exhibits:

Shark's Braincase
Maddie's Bitumen
Evie's Sponges
Birds' Nests
Mushroom Maggots
Mason Wasp's Nest
Swarm of Bees
Starfish
Bird Skeleton
Giant Puffball
Rat-tailed Maggots
Bracket Fungus
Black Swan Egg
Macraes Gold
Basket Fungus
Cave Spider's Egg Sac
Coprolites
Crayfish
Fungi
Opals
Paper nautilus
Powelliphanta snail
Whale Fossil