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See Inside Scientific American Volume 306, Issue 3

Photo Quiz: What Is It?

Pressure sensitive



Photo Researchers, Inc.

The experience of indulging in your favorite foods involves not only tasting flavors but also feeling the textures sweep across your tongue. Most of the bumps on the tongue’s surface are filiform papillae, which enable tactical sensation. In this scanning electron microscope image of the human tongue, magnified 1,500 times, the papillae ap­pear as cone-shaped buds. “They sense being deflected by something that touches them, including pressure from a heavy liquid,” says Robert F. Margolskee, associate director of the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia. He adds that the papillae appear to be scaly be­cause they are con­stantly in a state of shed­ding old cells and growing new ones.

Scientific American Dinosaurs

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