2 different types of backward facing papillae on the domestic cat’s tongue

I confess that I’m confused. I have made the common-sense deduction that there are 2 different types of backward facing papillae on the domestic cat’s tongue. I have come to this conclusion for the following reasons.

There are many photographs of the papillae on the cat’s tongue on the Internet. These are well-known images. The spines as I would call them are quite long and, as mentioned, they face backwards. They help the cat to groom and to grab food. They are like the teeth of a comb.

To these well-known papillae we have to add an image from a scientific photo library which contains a “photographic print of cat tongue surface, SEM”.

It is described as a “Cat’s tongue. Coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of the surface of a cat’s (family Felidae) tongue. The tongue is covered in many backward facing papillae (projections). These tongue structures are used to clean the cat’s fur and to rasp meat from its prey. Magnification: x 15 when printed at 10 cm wide.”

The scientist, who apparently is Stephen Gschmeissner, has confirmed that he took the photograph according to the snopes.com website. As you can see this is an electron micrograph of the tongue and therefore it is a much-magnified section of the tongue. And you can also see that the papillae in the micrograph are nothing like the papillae which we are used to seeing when photographed with a conventional camera.

Cat's tongue showing backward facing papillae of 2 types
Cat’s tongue showing backward facing papillae of 2 types. Click the image to see it larger.
Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

Nobody has tried to explain this. The snopes.com author of an article on the micrograph simply overlooks this perplexing and confusing state of affairs. I have created an image which I think has to be the solution to this conundrum. And if I’m wrong I want someone to tell me. I have indicated in the montage the area where the smaller papillae are located. This assessment is based on the fact that the photographer is being truthful about his photo which must have been taken from the tongue of a deceased cat.

The smaller papillae are on the edges of the tongue while there are much longer and larger papillae in the central area. As mentioned, this can only be the conclusion if both forms of backward facing papillae are present on the tongue of a domestic cat at the same time.

Link to the science photo library.

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