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, 194 (3), 287-301

Functional Mechanisms and Histologic Composition of the Lingual Appendage in the Alligator Snapping Turtle, Macroclemys Temmincki (Troost) (Testudines: Chelydridae)

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Functional Mechanisms and Histologic Composition of the Lingual Appendage in the Alligator Snapping Turtle, Macroclemys Temmincki (Troost) (Testudines: Chelydridae)

Edward L Spindel et al. J Morphol.

Abstract

Gross and microscopic examination of the lingual appendages of juvenile and adult alligator snapping turtles, Macroclemys temmincki, shows that it is divided into an anterior horn, a body, and a posterior horn. Lingual appendages of adults usually are more darkly pigmented than those of juveniles and melanocyte distribution is variable, resulting in a mottled appearance. The musculoskeletal components of the hyoid apparatus, presumably responsible for most of the motion displayed by the appendage, are described here. The lingual appendage is innervated by the lingual nerve which divides into three branches, two coursing rostrally into the anterior horn and one running caudally into the posterior horn. These branches ramify and end in numerous terminals within the lamina epithelialis and lamina propria. The lamina epithelialis of the distal three-fourths of the horns of the lingual appendage contain structures similar to taste buds described in other species of turtles. Goblet cells, containing acid mucopolysaccharides, are located in the stratified squamous epithelium. Blood is transported to the appendage via the lingual artery, which is a terminal branch of the external carotid artery. Numerous venous sinuses lie among the predominant bundles of connective tissue and account for approximately one-fifth of the total volume of the appendage. An engorged appendage is swollen and pinker in color. The coloration, enlargement, and wiggling movement combined with its buoyancy in water make the appendage imitate a small worm or an insect larva. The increase in melanin during ontogeny may produce a more variable pattern and may increase the number of organisms attracted by the appendage. The acid mucopolysaccharides of the globlet cells presumably may condition the nonkeratinized, stratified squamous epithelial surface of the appendage. The flexibility of the pseudoerect, active appendage keep it from being injured.

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