The tongue is an amazing organ. Those bumps on our tongues are the key to how we experience the sensation of taste. Doctors call those bumps on the tongue, papillae and there are four different types. Filiform papillae are like threads. Fungiform papillae are shaped like mushrooms. Circumvallate papillae are ringed and foliate papillae are leaf-shaped. All except the thread-shaped papillae have taste buds on them. Because the taste buds are on the papillae they are more accessible to anything that enters the mouth. The bumps also create more surface area so that food can reach a maximum of taste buds to help increase the sensation.
Each taste bud is in the shape of a flask. They have broad bases and long, slender necks. The taste buds themselves are made of two types of cells, the supporting cells that create the walls of the structure and the gustatory cells that occupy the center of the taste bud. The gustatory cells are responsible for carrying the chemicals that create taste to the nerve endings.
The tongue itself is skeletal muscle just like the ones in our arms and legs. The tongue extends far back into the throat about one-third the length of the entire organ. The tongue is rich in nerve-endings and blood vessels. Blood is fed into the tongue primarily through the lingual artery. The average length of the human tongue is 4 inches but only about half that can extend outward past the lips. The longest tongue on a man extends 3.7 inches past the lips and the longest female tongue extends 2.75 inches.
Tongues are a universal organ and they exist in one form or another in all multi-cellular animals.
Posted 2026 day ago