Do Sharks Have Tongues In Their Mouth? (Answer Revealed)

do sharks have tongues

“There’s a lot of false information out there on the internet, and today we’re going to dispel some myths. Do sharks have tongues in their mouths? Spoiler alert: Only three species of sharks use their tongues for anything!”

Sharks are one of the most feared creatures on Earth, but how much do we know about them?

It seems like every week; there’s a new shark attack headline. But sharks are more afraid of us than we are of them.

This informative and fun article will teach you everything you ever wanted to know about these fantastic creatures, from their anatomy to their diet and behavior.

do sharks have a tongue

You’ll even learn which sharks have tongues (only three out of more than 400 species).

Do Sharks Have Tongues in Their Mouth?

Do Sharks Have Tongue? Most people believe that sharks have tongues because they’ve seen pictures or videos of sharks with something resembling a tongue inside a shark’s mouth. However, the vast majority of shark species don’t have tongues. 

So, what are those things that look like tongues? In most cases, they’re called basihyal cartilages, unlike the human tongue. The basihyal is a small, flat piece of cartilage located at the base of the shark’s mouth and helps support the teeth.

Do sharks have tongues? So, if sharks don’t have tongues, what do they use to taste their food? Sharks have taste buds on shark skin, allowing them to taste anything they come into contact with.

What Shark Has a Tongue? – The three shark species that have 

Only three shark species have tongues – carpet sharks, bullhead sharks, and cookie-cutter sharks. The tongue helps these sharks taste and manipulate prey.

The carpet shark’s tongue is fascinating because it’s long and highly maneuverable, allowing the shark to probe deep into crevices for hidden prey.

The cookiecutter shark’s tongue is also attractive because it’s a modified tooth. These sharks use their papillae lining tongues to take circular chunks out of the flesh of the prey.

What Do Sharks Tongues Do?

Shark tongues do many things – they help sharks taste, grip, and protect their ventral aorta. But one of the essential things a shark tongue does is help keep the shark’s teeth clean.

Sharks have hundreds of tiny, sharp teeth that can quickly become coated in blood and tissue when sharks bite their tongue into their prey. The slimy film that coats a shark’s tongue helps to remove this food debris from the teeth, keeping them clean and sharp for the next meal.

Do Great White Sharks Have Tongues?

Do sharks have tongues? Great white sharks are one of the most feared predators on Earth, but did you know that they don’t have one? Like most sharks, the great white has a chunk of cartilage on the floor of the mouth but no actual tongue.

Some people think sharks are primitive creatures with no natural features that set them apart from other pelagic fishes. But the truth is, sharks are highly evolved predators with some fantastic adaptations, including a fifth sense that allows them to detect electrical fields in the water.

As for whether or not great white sharks have tongues, the answer is more complicated. Sharks have tongues but don’t use them to taste food. Instead, their tongues help them keep their mouths open so they can breathe while swimming.

Can a Shark Stick Out Its Tongue? 

No, sharks cannot stick out their tongues. Sharks have retractable “tongues,” which are more like sharp extensions of the lower jaw. The top of the “tongue” is covered in small, serrated teeth, which help it grip slippery prey.

The bottom of the “tongue” is covered in taste buds, which help the shark determine if something is edible. If the taste buds of sharks detect a potential meal, the shark will open its mouth and throat and use its tongue to pull the prey into its teeth.

How Do Sharks Taste Their Food?

Sharks have small bumps that contain numerous taste buds. These bumps are called “moray eels” and help sharks taste their food. Their sense of taste is so refined that they can even distinguish between types of prey.

Sharks have a keen sense of smell and use their senses of smell and taste together to determine if their prey is edible.

Does a Tiger Shark Have a Tongue?

Many people refer to a Tiger Shark’s tongue as a basihyal. A basihyal is a cartilaginous structure that anchors the tongue in place and extends forwards from the hyoid arch. The basihyal supports the position of the tongue’s body and helps move it forward and backward.

Elongate muscles attach to either side of the basihyal and run down into the throat muscles. These pharyngeal muscles allow a shark to move its tongue in all directions.

What Does a Shark’s Tongue Feel Like?

Sharks have a very rough, sandpaper-like tongue. It’s short, small, and stout – not very anatomically complicated. Mostly it just feels like a bumpy surface.

While sharks have five senses just like we do, they rely more heavily on their sense of smell and touch than on their sense of sight or taste.

That’s why they’re so good at finding prey in their live murky waters. Their sense of touch is so keen that they can detect the tiny electrical fields generated by other living creatures.

Why Do Sharks Not Have Tongues?

Sharks don’t have tongues because their muscle mobility is restricted. For example, they can’t move their tongues up and down, so they rely on suction to bring food into sharks’ mouths.

This lack of tongue mobility is thought to be because sharks have very thick skin that doesn’t allow for much flexibility. If you were to cut a shark’s tongue out, it would regenerate quickly due to its abundance of pluripotent cells.

How Do Sharks Eat Without Swallowing Water?

Sharks have a unique way of eating without swallowing water. They use the muscles of their pectoral girdle to pump the water out of their mouths while feeding. This allows them to keep the water out while biting down on their prey.

It’s a fantastic adaptation that helps them stay efficient while feeding. And it’s one of the reasons why sharks can eat so many different types of prey without worrying about getting sick from swallowing too much water.

Commonly Asked Questions on Do Sharks Have a Tongue (FAQ)


So, do sharks have tongues? Out of the more than 400 shark species, only three have been observed using their tongues to manipulate prey or explore their environment. These sharks are the great hammerhead, whale shark, and basking shark. Scientists believe other sharks may use their tongues for similar purposes, but further research is needed. Studies like this one remind us that there is still so much we don’t know about these fascinating creatures of the deep.

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