The cow tongue anatomy possesses three distinct parts that made of muscles, nerves, vessels, lingual glands, and tonsils. You will find different identifiable features on the various surfaces of the cow tongue.
I will show you these important distinguishable anatomical facts from the cow tongue with the diagram.
Quick overview: the cow tongue has a root, body, and apex made of muscles and glands. The presence of torus linguae, transverse lingual fossa, and various papillae on the dorsal surface are more distinguishable features of cow tongue anatomy.
You will find a little variation in the papillae between cow and goat tongues, making their tongues more or less rough. Here, I will show the difference in the structures (including muscles, papillae, and glands) between the cow and goat tongues.
Let’s continue this article and learn the anatomical facts of cow tongue structures.
Cow tongue anatomy
The cow tongue is a highly movable muscular structure in the mouth cavity. It is responsible for prehension, mastication, and deglutition in a cow.
From the cow tongue anatomy, first, I will show the important features of its different parts. Before that, you might know the exact location of the cow tongue.
Where is the cow tongue located? The cow tongue is located on the floor of the mouth cavity between the bodies of the mandible. This tongue is supported by a sling formed by the myohyoideus muscle.
Suggested articles from anatomy learners that have a relationship with the tongue –
- Cow mouth cavity anatomy with diagram – vestibule, floor, and hard plate, and
- Cow jaw bone (mandible) – identification along with teeth,
Now, let’s try to identify the below-mentioned anatomical facts from the cow’s tongue with the help of a diagram –
- Root, body, and apex of the cow tongue,
- Three surfaces from the body (dorsal, ventral, and lateral),
- Torus linguae on the dorsal surface,
- Transverse lingual fossa on the dorsal surface of a cow tongue,
- Flattened and rounded two lateral surfaces of the tongue,
- Frenulum linguae from the ventral surface of the tongue,
- Filiform and fungiform papillae from the apical part of the tongue’s body,
- Conical and lenticular papillae on the torus linguae of the cow tongue,
- Vallate papillae on the caudal aspect of the dorsum of cow’s tongue, and
- Different important muscles from the cow tongue structure,
I have already identified all the above-mentioned anatomical facts from the various surfaces of the cow tongue in the provided diagram. Now, you may learn the details of the cow or bovine tongue structure from the next section of this article.
What is the anatomy of the cow tongue?
The structure of a cow tongue possesses the following –
- Three main parts – root, body, and apex,
- Papillae on the tongue – filiform, fungiform, conical, lenticular, and vallet,
- Lingual glands and tonsils on the tongue,
- Muscles of the tongue,
- Nerves and vessels of the cow tongue,
You will know these structures from the cow tongue with a diagram. First, let’s learn the anatomical facts from the root of the bovine tongue.
Table 1 shows the summary of the cow tongue structure –
|Features||Cow Tongue Anatomy|
|Parts||Three – root, body, and apex|
Have attachment with hyoid and mandible
Form palatoglossal arch with a soft palate
|Body||Possess three free surface|
Dorsal – has five types of papillae
Lateral – flat and rounded
Ventral – attach with frenulum linguae
|Apex||Thin, blunt, and rounded|
|Muscles||Genioglossus, hyologlossus, and others|
|Glands||Numerous lingual glands on the root|
|Other features||Lingual tonsil on the root of the tongue|
Innervated by four major cranial nerves
Supplied by lingual artery and vein
The root of the cattle tongue anatomy
The root of the tongue is wide in cattle or ruminants. You will find the very thick root in the structure of the bovine tongue that attaches to the hyoid bone and mandible.
The hyoglossus and genioglossus muscles help attach the root to the hyoid and mandible bones. You will find the free dorsal surface and almost fixed ventral surface in the root of a cow or bovine tongue.
You will also find the below-mentioned attachment of the cow tongue with other various structures –
- Attachment of tongue with soft palate – by the cranial pillar,
- The tongue attaches to the pharynx – by muscles and membrane, and
- Attachment of tongue with epiglottis – by the glossoepiglotic fold,
The free upper surface of the root of the bovine or cattle tongue slopes ventrally and caudad. You will find the folds at the caudal aspect of each side of the root.
These folds join from the dorsum of the tongue to the soft palate. You know, these two folds on each side of the root of the bovine tongue are the palatoglossal arch.
Body of the cattle tongue anatomy
The body of the cattle tongue is the middle part (shown in the diagram). It is wider on the ruminant or bovine tongue than the dogs.
You will find three free surfaces in the structure of the cattle tongue anatomy –
- Dorsal surface – slightly rounded,
- Ventral surface – related to frenulum linguae, and
- Lateral surface – right and left lateral, flat and rounded in structure,
The dorsal surface of the cow tongue is free and known as dorsum linguae. You will find the elliptical dorsal prominence at the caudal part of the tongue’s body.
Torus linguae definition
The elliptical prominence of the dorsal body of the cow tongue is the torus linguae. This is the most unique feature in the structure of the cow tongue.
You will also find a transverse groove on the body at the rostral part of the torus linguae. This transverse groove of the tongue’s body is the lingual fossa. This lingual fossa on the dorsal surface of the tongue is another unique feature in cows.
But, the torus linguae and lingual fossa of the goat and sheep’s tongues are not so distinct.
What is the papillae of the cow tongue?
The dorsal surface of the cow tongue has a firmly attached mucous membrane. You will find various pigmented and spotted areas which contain the papillae.
There are 5 (five) types of papillae on the dorsal aspect of the bovine tongue (except in the root). Let’s see these five types of papillae from the cow or ox tongue –
- Filiform – mechanical type and more in ox tongue,
- Fungiform – gustatory papillae and bear taste buds,
- Conical papillae – mechanical papillae and located on the torus linguae,
- Lenticular papillae – mechanical and also located on the torus linguae, and
- Vallet or circumvallate papillae – gustatory papillae and also bear taste buds,
The labeled diagram identifies all these papillae from the cow tongue. Now, let’s know the details of the structure of these papillae from the bovine or cattle tongue.
Let’s see the summary of the structure of the cow tongue papillae from Table 2 –
|Cow Tongue Papillae||Location||Type||Special features|
|Filliform||Apical part of dorsum||Mechanical||Provide roughness|
|Fungiform||Scattered on filliform||Gustatory||Bears taste buds|
|Conical||Rotrsal part of torus linguae||Mechanical||Pointed structure|
|Lenticular||On torus linguae||Mechanical||Larger rounded|
|Vallet||Caudal part of dorsum||Gustatory||Bears taste buds|
Filiform papillae of the cow tongue
These are the mechanical type of papillae located on the apical part of the dorsum of cow tongue. You will find them more on the rostral to tours linguae or transverse lingual fossa (shown in the diagram).
The filiform papillae on the ox tongue are cornified and sharp in an appearance on the apical part near the apex. They are directed caudally and give roughness on the dorsal surface of the cow tongue.
Thus, these filiform papillae provide efficiency in the bovine tongue for prehension in grazing. You will find a great variation in the structure of the filiform papillae on the dorsal aspect of the sheep or goat tongue.
Fungiform papillae on the cow tongue
The fungiform papillae on the cow tongue anatomy are scattered among the filiform. Here, the fungiform papillae are larger than the filiform.
These are the gustatory papillae, and thus, they bear taste buds. You will find numerous fungiform papillae on the sheep or goat tongue structure compared to cows.
Conical, lenticular, and valet papillae on the bovine tongue
The conical and lenticular papillae are located at the torus linguae of the cow tongue. You will find the conical-shaped papillae on the rostral part of the torus linguae.
They are directed rostrally and pointed laterally. Sometimes the conical papillae are pointed caudolaterally.
They can be modified into broad, flat projections in the cow tongue structure. Then you may need clarification on the structure of the lenticular papillae.
But, still, you may differentiate the lenticular papillae from the conical papillae of the cow tongue. The lenticular papillae are the large rounded sessile structure in the caudal aspect of the torus linguae.
The number of vallet papillae on the cow tongue is very specific. These vallet papillae locate at the caudal aspect of the dorsal surface of the cow tongue.
The valet papillae of the cow tongue are gustatory in nature and possess taste buds. You will find 8 – 16 vallet papillae in the caudal aspect of the dorsum of the cow’s tongue.
They arrange in an irregular double row on each side of the caudal aspect of the cow tongue. You will find the same number of vallet papillae and arrangement patterns in the goat tongue.
Lateral and ventral surface of the bovine tongue’s body
The most caudal part of the lateral surface (right and left) of the cow tongue is flat. Gradually it becomes rounded and narrow in the rostral aspect.
The ventral surface of the cow tongue is related to the genioglossus and mylohyoideus muscles. You will find the wide fold of mucous membranes on the ventral surface of the cow tongue.
This is the frenulum linguae of the cow. And this structure provides the attachment with the floor of the mouth cavity to the ventral surface of a cow’s tongue.
Lingual glands and tonsils of the cow tongue anatomy
You will find various lingual glands in the structure of the cow tongue. These are the small lobules under the mucosa membrane of the tongue.
The numerous lingual glands are embedded in the musculature of the cow tongue. You will find numerous lingual glands on the root of the cow tongue.
Again, the lingual glands may also extend rostrally along the margin of the cow tongue. Most of the lingual glands are associated with the vallate papillae of the cow tongue.
But, in the structure of the sheep and goat tongue, you will find a little variation of lingual glands. The tongue of sheep and goats shows the apical lingual glands on the ventral surface of the tongue near the frenulum linguae.
You will also find numerous lingual tonsils in the structure of the cow tongue. They are the aggregated lymphatic follicles on the roots of the cow tongue. But, you will find diffuse lymphatic follicles in the structure of the sheep and goat tongues.
What are the muscles of the tongue of cattle?
You will find two types of muscles (extrinsic and intrinsic) in the core of the cattle tongue structure. Both extrinsic and intrinsic muscles of the cow tongue consist of bundles of skeletal muscles.
The intrinsic muscles of the cow tongue are directed in longitudinal, transverse, and verticle directions. Again, the longitudinal muscles of the cow tongue have two layers – superior and inferior.
The extrinsic muscles of the cow tongue have attachments outside the tongue. You will find the below-mentioned extrinsic muscles in the structure of the cow tongue –
- Stylo-glossus muscle of cow tongue,
- Hyo-glossus muscle of the tongue,
- Genioglossus muscle of the cow tongue, and
- Palate-glossus muscle of the tongue,
The styloglossus and hyoglossus muscles of the cow tongue extend from the hyoid bone to the tongue. Again, the genioglossus muscle attaches the cow tongue with the rami of the mandible.
Finally, the palatoglossus muscle connects the cow’s tongue with the soft palate of the cow’s mouth cavity.
Styloglossus muscle: this is the long and thin muscle in the structure of the tongue that lies lateral aspect. This muscle arises from the great cornu of the hyoid bone and terminates at the tip of the tongue.
Hyo-glossus muscle: this is the wide and flat muscle in the structure of the cow tongue. This muscle lies at the lateral aspect of the root and body of the cow tongue and covers by the styloglossus.
Genioglossus muscle: this is the fan-shaped muscle that lies parallel to the median plane of the cow tongue. This muscle arises from the medial surface of the ramus of the mandible and terminates at the root of the cow tongue.
The stylo-glossus muscle retracts the tongue, whereas the other two act as the depressor muscles.
Nerves and vessels of the cow tongue
The innervation to the cow tongue is divided from the cranial nerves V, VII, IX, and XII. Thus, the branches from the mandibular (lingual), facial, glossopharyngeal, and hypoglossal nerves innervate the cow tongue.
Again, the cow tongue is supplied by the lingual artery. You know, this lingual artery of the cow tongue derives from the common trunk of the facial artery.
But, in sheep and goats, you will find the direct branch that comes from the carotid artery and supply their tongues.
The major venous supply on the cow tongue is the lingual vein. This lingual vein gives branches into two – deep lingual and sublingual veins. Again, the deep lingual form the dorsal lingual vein in the structure of the cow tongue.
Cow tongue anatomy diagram
Now, let’s see all the important facts from the cow tongue anatomy with the labeled diagram. Here, I tried to show the specific features of the different parts of the cow tongue.
The dorsal, ventral, and lateral (right and left) surfaces of the cow tongue are identified in the diagram. Again, the various types of lingual papillae on the dorsum of the cow tongue are also identified in the diagram.
The exceptional features like the torus linguae and the lingual fossa are also shown in the diagram. Here, the diagram also shows the ventral wide frenulum linguae that attach the tongue to the floor of the mouth cavity.
You will find numerous diagrams of the cow tongue on social media of anatomy learners. Again, you will also find more differences between cow and horse tongues in the diagram.
Goat tongue anatomy
The goat tongue anatomy also possesses almost similar features to the cattle. You will find less distinct torus linguae and lingual fossa on the dorsal surface of the cow tongue.
More variations are found in the structure of the papillae of the goat or sheep tongues. The filiform papillae are soft on the goat tongue.
Thus, the cranial part of the dorsal surface of goat or sheep tongues is comparatively smooth. And they don’t act as the prehension organs like the cows.
You will find the papillae on the marginal zone of the ventral surface of the goat tongue structure.
But, the feature of the valet papillae of the goat tongue is similar to the cows. You will find the variation in the valet papillae in the sheep tongue. There are 18 – 24 valet papillae (average 20) on each side of the sheep tongue.
You will also find the apical lingual glands at the ventral surface of the goat or sheep tongues. Again, the arterial supply to the goat tongue shows variation compared to the cow’s tongue.
How to differentiate the cow tongue from the goat or sheep tongue?
You may differentiate the cow tongue from the goat or sheep tongues with the appearance of papillae and dorsal surface. Table 3 shows the differences between the cow and goat tongues –
|Features||Goat tongue||Cow tongue|
|Lingual fossa||Less distinct||Distinct|
Soft and smooth
Also located on the ventral surface
It gives the tongue roughness
Locates only apical dorsum
Soft and smooth
Also located on the ventral surface
|Numerous at the root|
Also, extend on margin
|Major vessels||Come directly from carotid||Lingual artery|
Horse and dog tongue compare to cows
The body of the horse’s tongue is narrow compared to the cow’s. You will find the spatula shape tongue in the horse.
There are torus linguae and transverse lingual fossa in the structure of the horse tongue. You will find the foliate papillae on either side of the root of the horse tongue.
The structure of the dog tongue is totally different compared to the cow tongue. Let’s get the full guide on the dog tongue from the below-mentioned article to understand its structure compared to the cow’s tongue –
The dorsal surface of the dog tongue shows the median groove (which is unique). You will find foliate papillae like the horse tongue.
Again, the dorsal aspect of the caudal part of the dog tongue shows 2 or 3 valet papillae on each side. The exceptionally thick fibromuscular cord (known as the lyssa body) is on the dog’s tongue.
This lyssa body locates along the middle of the ventral surface of the tip of the dog tongue.
The cow tongue anatomy possesses three main segments (root, body, and apex) with different unique features. A dorsal prominence on the caudal part of the body is the torus lingue of the cow tongue.
Again, the distinct transverse lingual fossa rostral to torus linguae on the cow tongue is unique compared to other animals. Now, you may differentiate the anatomical features of cow tongues from horses and dogs.