Morphological study of the lingual papillae of the giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) by scanning electron microscopy


Dr J. F. Pastor, Anatomical Museum, Department of Anatomy and Radiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Valladolid, Valladolid, Spain. E:


Due to the scarcity of giant pandas, there are few descriptions of their morphology and even fewer of their microscopic anatomy and the ultrastructure of their organs. In this study of the complete tongue of an adult male giant panda, we describe the morphology of its lingual surface, the different types of papillae, their characteristics and topographic distribution. It was seen that there are four main types of lingual papillae: filiform, conical, fungiform and vallate. There was no sign of foliate papillae, tuberculum intermolare or sublingua. Papilla distribution was not limited to the dorsum of the tongue, but was also seen on the anterior and ventral surfaces of the tongue. In the anterior third of the midline there is a smooth area with no papillae at all. Morphology of the microgrooves and pores is similar to that observed in other mammals. The papillae share characteristics encountered in Carnivora and herbivorous species of mammals. A narrow bamboo-based diet and specialized manner of eating have together resulted in modification of the tongue of a carnivoran, giving it some characteristics typical of an herbivore.