The mouth contains one of the most unique muscles in the human body: the tongue. Unlike other muscles, the tongue doesn’t connect to bones on both ends. Instead, one end is free moving and flexible thanks to the many individual muscles it contains. Tongues have three distinct areas. The tip is flexible and allows for intricate movements. The dorsal surface, the top of the tongue, features the taste buds that allow the tongue to act as a sense organ. The ventral surface is the smooth underside.
Experts classify the tongue as a muscular hydrostat, a biological structure that is able to manipulate items or provide movement without skeletal support. Because muscles are only able to move by contracting, muscular hydrostats rely on a system of muscles constricting and relaxing harmonically. A human tongue consists of eight muscles that experts further classify into extrinsic and intrinsic muscles. The extrinsic muscles change the tongue’s position, while the intrinsic muscles change the tongue’s shape.
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