Tongue, papillae with taste buds (foliate papillae from rabbit)
Fungiform papilla appear as occasional small pink projections which are scattered rather widely over the surface of the human tongue. Taste buds on the human tongue are found ONLY on the sides of fungiform papillae (and on a few large circumvallate papillae located at the back of the tongue). They are not associated with the filiform papillae which cover most of the tongue's surface.
The image above shows cross sections of foliate (elongated, leaf-shaped) papillae from rabbit tongue, which in section appear similar to human fungiform papillae. Taste buds are much easier to find on this specimen than on human tongue, where fungiform papillae are rather scarce. (Why this should be is unclear, since rabbits, which are well known for eating their own droppings, hardly epitomize gourmet sensitivity.)
Note that each papilla has a core of lamina propria. In oblique sections this connective tissue can give the illusory appearance of isolated "islands" surrounded by epithelium.
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Last updated: 11 March 2004 / dgk