The barb on the cat's tongue is not a simple thorn.
cats are always licking their hair, and as much as 24% of their waking time is spent grooming their hair. Today we'll take a closer look at how cats comb their hair with their tongues.
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cats have many "barbs" on their tongues, and these structures should be called filamentous nipples (filiform papillae). There are also many tongue nipples on the human tongue, but they are all soft, while the cat's filamentous nipples have a keratinized structure and are as hard as human fingernails. These barbs can help cats touch the roots and skin of their hair when licking their hair and clean them thoroughly.
A paper recently published on PNAS carefully observed and analyzed these "barbs" on cats' tongues. One of the important findings is that these "barbs" are not simple solid thorns, but actually have a U-shaped hollow tube at the tip, as shown below:
(the study observed the "barbs" on the tongues of six species of cats, all of which have similar hollow structures. From left to right, from domestic cats, short-tailed cats, Pumas, snow leopards, tigers and lions)
the following picture is a demonstration of food pigment, and you can see that the cavity of "barb" automatically absorbs droplets:
through thermal imaging, you can directly see the effect of licking on heat dissipation:
in addition, the researchers also printed a brush in 3D, imitating the appearance of a cat's tongue. Compared with an ordinary comb The advantage of this kind of "cat tongue brush" is that the hair attached to it can be removed very easily:
sounds like it can be popularized.
for more information, please see the original paper: http://www.pnas.org/content/115/49/12377
and related reports: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/11/how-do-cats-stay-so-clean-video-reveals-secrets-feline. -tongue
the screenshot and the original video of the motion picture in the article are all from the paper.