Weird Nature
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The Craziest Tongues In Nature

Updated March 30, 2021 13.4k views15 items

The natural world is filled with all sorts of flamboyantly bizarre creatures, but some animals are better at hiding their secret weirdness than others. Hiding inside some of their mouths are outrageous tongues, ones so crazy that it would probably change some peoples perspectives about the animal if they were to find out exactly what they do with said tongues. Some of the strangest tongues in nature include ones that are serrated, tongues that have developed unique abilities, and even some that are longer than the animal itself.

These odd animal tongues have evolved to perform all sorts of specific tasks, but that doesn’t make them any less unsettling. Even relatively harmless animals can quickly become terrifying as soon as they open their mouths. Tongues can sometimes seem gross and slimy, but they are essential organs that can make all the difference when it comes to an animals chances of survival. These are some of the craziest, most extreme, and most unique tongues in the animal kingdom. 

  • Just like house cats, other felines in nature have rear-facing structures known as papillae on their tongues that give them a rough texture. These are used to assist in grooming. Tigers are no exception, and they can use their sharp papillae to strip flesh right off the bone. Their tongues can easily remove skin, feathers, and fur off of their prey, making their meals a bit more palatable. Tigers are apex predators and are native to Asia.

  • The Giant Palm Salamander's Tongue Packs The Hardest Punch

    Video: YouTube

    Often characterized as the most explosive tongue in the animal kingdom, the tongue of the giant palm salamander can stretch to half it’s body length in seven milliseconds. The amount of power behind this tongue has been measured at about 18,000 watts per kilogram of muscle, a record in the natural world that is twice as powerful as the runner-up, the Colorado river toad. This adaption most likely evolved to counter the highly evasive insects that make up a majority of the salamander’s diet.

  • For hundreds of years, scientists have been wrong about the mechanism that allows hummingbirds to slurp up nectar from deep inside flowers. While at first they believed nectar was pulled up by the relatively slow process of capillary action, scientists now know that hummingbirds are able to rapidly ingest nectar with their unique tongues. 

    Acting like a micropump, hummingbird tongues are able to use elastic energy to draw nectar into their mouths. The way the tongue flattens and bends are crucial to this process.

  • Snake Tongues Can Detect Prey

    Snake tongues are special for many reasons. They are forked, meaning that they split in half to create a two-pronged organ. On top of that, snakes use their tongues as a way to pick up scent particles in the air. Ever seen a snake flick its tongue? That means you’ve seen this scent organ in action. They use this unique sense of smell from everything to finding prey and avoiding predators, to locating mates. Male snakes can even tell if a female is ready to mate based on the scents she excretes. 

    The venomous puff adder has found an even more novel use of their tongues. They can trick frogs into thinking their tongues are small worms, and will snatch any frog foolish enough to fall for the con.

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