SALLY BENSUSEN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SALLY BENSUSEN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Salamander tongue action. Artwork of a salamander extending its tongue to catch its insect prey. The internal anatomy of the tongue-extending mechanism is shown at top. The dark blue strips are cartilage attached to the front of the tongue (pink). Rings of muscle surround these strips of cartilage. They contract to eject the cartilage out of the salamander's mouth, carrying the tongue and the sticky tongue pad (in the salamander's mouth) with them. The pad will hold the insect (upper right). Retractor muscles attached to the pelvis (yellow) reel the tongue back into the salamander's mouth. The initial tongue extension occurs in just several thousandths of a second.
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