MadSci Network: Zoology

Re: Why do many animals, like deer, stick their tongues out when they die?

Date: Fri Sep 15 03:39:53 2000
Posted By: Will Higgs, Grad student, Zooarchaeology, University of York (from Oct 2000)
Area of science: Zoology
ID: 960401797.Zo

Grazing animals such as deer and cattle have very long tongues, which help 
them to manipulate vegetation while feeding.  Perhaps you have seen 
photographs of deer feeding on the leaves of trees, curling their tongues 
round the twigs, or watched grazing cattle sweeping the grass into clumps 
before they bite.

Our tongues are much shorter, and while we have to make an effort to stick 
them out, deer have to hold their tongues in !  When they die, their 
tongues simply fall out, they do not need to stick them out.

When an animal has been dead for a while, and has begun to decompose, the 
tongue may swell, causing it to protrude.

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