Morphological studies on the oropharyngeal cavity of turtles are an interesting tool in understanding evolutionary processes associated with feeding habits. There is paucity of morphological information on the oropharyngeal cavity of the Trachemys adiutrix turtle. Thus, the aim of this study was to describe the tongue and palate morphology of T. adiutrix to establish a standard model for the species, providing information that may improve knowledge on the species feeding habits. Gross dissection, light microscopy and scanning electron microscopy assessments of 11 specimens were carried out. The tongue of T. adiutrix is triangular with a slightly rounded apex and broad base and lingual papillae widely distributed throughout the entire dorsal surface. The palate is composed of bony structures, displaying a triangular apex with one pair of choanae and palatine raphe that begin in the middle region, dividing the two openings. The body was elongated and smooth. The root was wrinkled and opened into the oesophagus. The tongue was lined by non-keratinized stratified squamous epithelium, rich in mucous cells and a large number of different-shaped papillae and taste buds. The palate was mainly lined by a pseudostratified cylindrical ciliated epithelium rich in mucous cells. In conclusion, the tongue and palate characteristics of T. adiutrix include evidence that these animals are semiaquatic, displaying morphological characteristics associated with aquatic and terrestrial trophic ecology, similar to that observed in other semiaquatic and terrestrial chelonian species.
Keywords: Emydidae; fungiform papillae; lingual papillae; microscopy; scanning electron microscopy.
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