๐ŸฆˆDo Fish Have Tongues?

Yes, most of the fish do have tongues. Fish tongues are bony structures that are located on the floor of the mouth, also known as basihyal to protect the ventral aorta. The tongue of the fish does not look like a human’s muscular tongue and also does not have taste buds. Some species of fish have teeth on their tongue to hold and swallow the prey. Certain fish lose their tongue due to parasites such as Isopod, also known as tongue biters.

What does a fish tongue look like?

Yes, similar to amphibians, most of the fish have a tongue. It is a bony structure that is located on the lower part of the mouth. It is also known as basihyal which has very restricted motion and also doesnโ€™t have muscles similar to the human tongue.

Read: Do Fish Have Teeth?

Why fish have a tongue?

In humans, we know that the primary function of the tongue is to taste food but in the case of fish, their tongue doesnโ€™t have taste buds. Therefore, fish cannot taste food using their tongue.

How fish use tongue to protect ventral aorta?

According to the researchers, fish have evolved a bony tongue to protect the ventral aorta which is an artery that carries blood from the ventricle of the heart to the aortic arches. As you can see in the below image, the ventral aorta lies near the mouth.

Image Credit : Epipelagic

Therefore, the tongue in fish protects the ventral aorta from the impact of food while swallowing the prey in large pieces or whole.

How fish use their tongue to chew food?

It is interesting to note that the fish do not chew their food inside their mouth as humans do. They use their teeth to capture and hold their prey. Humans usually use their tongue to position food for chewing inside the mouth while fish use their tongue to swallow the food by thrusting the food back into the farthest of the mouth to process it.

Can fish taste food using their tongue?

By now we have learned that fish tongue does not have taste buds which means they cannot taste their prey using their tongue. Now you must be thinking if fish cannot taste using their tongue, then how fish taste their prey. Fish do not have taste buds on their tongue but they have taste buds on their outside body including fins. This gives fish an ability to taste their food without swallowing it.

Catfish have more than 100,000 taste buds located all over their body while humans have only 10,000 buds located on the tongue.

Do fish have teeth on their tongue?

Yes, some fishes such as salmon, Glossanodon, and osteoglossomorphs that have small teeth on their tongue. Teeth on the tongue make it easier for fish to hold, rasp flesh, and swallow the prey.

What is a tongue-eating parasite?

Cymothoa exigua, or the tongue-eating louse, is a parasitic isopod that enters in the fish body through gills and gets attached to the tongue of the fish. This parasite will slowly start consuming the fish tongue and eventually, it replaces the tongue with its own body. These parasites are also known as tongue biters. It is found that the fish can survive this parasitism but breathing and eating become difficult for the fish.

Do goldfish have tongues?

Yes, Goldfish do have a tongue but it does not look like a human tongue. They have tongue similar to other fishes that have a basihyal, a bony structure located at the bottom of the mouth.

Do sharks have tongues?

Yes, sharks have basihyal, a small and thick piece of cartilage located on the lower floor of the sharkโ€™s mouth which resembles a tongue.

Read more interesting questions about fish:

Professor Atom

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Professor Atom is a science enthusiast and alumni of IIT Bombay. According to him, every question can be solved with curiosity and mind mapping. ( Curiosity = Asking Questions = Learning )

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