Comparative morphological study of the lingual papillae and their connective tissue cores of the koala
Kan Kobayashi,1 Masahiko Kumakura,1 Ken Yoshimura,1 Kouji Nonaka,1 Toshiaki Murayama,1 Maciej Henneberg2
1Department of Anatomy, School of Dentistry at Niigata, The Nippon Dental University, 1–8 Hamaura-cho, Niigata, Japan
2Department of Anatomical Sciences, University of Adelaide, 5005 Adelaide, Australia
The stereo structure of each lingual papilla of the koala has a similar structure to that of various other animal species: the koala has a lingual prominence (intermolar prominence) with larger filiform papillae. (A lingual prominence is a characteristic in herbivorous animals.) The external form and connective tissue core (CTC) of the filiform papillae of koalas consist of one large main process and several smaller accessory processes. (These are similar to carnivorous animals.) Fungiform CTC have a thick dome-like structure, with several taste buds on the top. There are three vallate papillae: one central midline and two laterally located vallate papillae. The central vallate papilla has a posterior pouch lined with ciliated and non-ciliated epithelial cells. Long conical papillae are distributed in the posterior lateral area where foliate papillae are distributed in many other animal species. (Finger-like papillae are seen in dog and cat instead of foliate papillae.) It may be suggested that the tongue of the koala evolved in a special environment in Australia. Even though it has still retained special features similar to those of carnivorous cats and dogs it has evolved to resemble the tongues of herbivorous animals.