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Microsc Res Tech. 2012 Oct;75(10):1329-33. doi: 10.1002/jemt.22070. Epub 2012 May 12.

Macroscopic and microscopic analysis of the tongue of the common opossum (Didelphis marsupialis).

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Department of Basic Sciences of the School of Animal Science and Food Engineering, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil.


We performed a macroscopic and microscopic study of the tongues of common opossums, Didelphis marsupialis, from South America. We studied two males and two females. We collected morphometric data on the tongue with precision calipers. For the light microscopy and scanning electron microscopy analyses, we fixed tissue fragments in 10% formaldehyde and 2.5% glutaraldehyde, respectively. The opossum tongues averaged 5.87 ± 0.20 cm in length, 3.27 ± 0.15 cm in width at the lingual body, and 3.82 ± 0.15 cm in width at the root. The mean thickness of the lingual body was 1.8 ± 0.1 cm, and the thickness of the root was 3.82 ± 0.15 cm. Sharp filiform papillae were scattered across the entire tongue; conical filiform papillae occurred on the lingual body and tongue tip; fungiform papillae were scattered among the filiform papillae on the lingual body and tongue tip; and there were three vallate papillae at the root of the tongue. We found two strands of papillary projections in the tongue root. Despite the low variability observed in the lingual papillae, the morphological data obtained in this study may be related to the opossum's diverse food habits and the extensive geographic distribution of the species throughout America.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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