The tongue of birds fills the oral cavity and has a beak-like shape. Morphological studies of birds reveal a correlation between the structure of the tongue and the mechanism of food intake and the type of food. However, several studies have shown morphological differences among the tongues of bird species. The aim of this study was to analyze ostrich tongue morphology and ultrastructural features using scanning electron microscopy. Tongues from 12 adult ostriches were examined. Six tongues were sectioned sagittally into lateral and middle portions, fixed in 10% formaldehyde solution, and examined under light microscopy. The other six samples were sectioned longitudinally, and the dorsal and ventral surfaces were separated, immersion-fixed in modified Karnovsky solution, and examined under scanning electron microscopy. The tongue surface of the ostrich was smooth, without lingual papillae, and covered by stratified non-keratinized epithelium. In the submucosal layer, mucous salivary glands were surrounded by connective-tissue capsules, with septa dividing the glands into lobes. Numerous salivary gland ducts of different sizes and connective-tissue laminae dividing each opening could be clearly seen in scanning electron microscope images. The ventral surface had fewer openings than the dorsal surface. In samples treated with NaOH, connective-tissue papillae from the dorsal region were oriented posteriorly.
scanning electron microscopy