Tag Archives: macro

Memories: Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery uses my images

I got a little reminder today of a neat use of my images: the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery purchased two of my cat tongue closeups to illustrate an article on the medical implications of cat hairballs.  The article was behind a paywall when it was first published, but the full text is now freely available.

Here’s the reference:  Cannon, M. 2013. Hair Balls in Cats: A normal nuisance or a sign that something is wrong? Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery 15: 21-29. doi: 10.1177/1098612X12470342.   http://jfm.sagepub.com/content/15/1/21.abstract

 

Gulf Fritillary: butterfly of many costumes

While out in the garden this weekend I spotted a gulf fritillary, Agraulis vanillae incarnata. They’re stunning butterflies:

A gulf fritillary [Agraulis vanillae incarnata] hides amongst blades of lemongrass [Cymbopogon sp.].  It looks like it's hyper aware; stalking prey (even though it's looking for nectar …).  The bottom of this species' wings have beautiful spots that reflect silver in bright light (as you can see in this image), but are white in the shade.  The forewings are also partially red. (Marc Perkins)
A gulf fritillary hides among blades of lemongrass.

What first caught my eye was the silver reflections of the spots on the bottom of their wings. In direct sunlight it looks like they’re metallic; very eye-catching. But when the same butterfly is in diffuse light, those spots look white:

A gulf fritillary [Agraulis vanillae incarnata] stands on a [Ficus] leaf.  The spots on its wings when closed are white in the shade (as in this image), but reflect light to appear a beautiful silver when illuminated.  When its wings are closed, the bright orange and red colors of the butterfly are completely hidden. (Marc Perkins)
A gulf fritillary stands on a [Ficus] leaf.

Compare the first and second picture, and you’ll see that in addition to changing from metallic to white, the butterfly can also choose how much color to show on its underside. When it spreads its wings (as in the first picture), the bright red/orange coloration of its forewing is revealed; but when it rests with both wings pulled together and upright (as in the second picture) it can completely hide the red/orange color, thus showing only brown and white/silver. It can also partially separate the wings, to reveal just a bit of color (as it liked to do when it was annoyed with how close I was getting).

And speaking of color, check out the top of those wings:

A gulf fritillary [Agraulis vanillae incarnata] stands amongst blades of lemongrass [Cymbopogon sp.] with its wings outstretched, showing off its bright orange colors. The bottom of its wings have silver spots on them, not visible in this picture. (Marc Perkins)
A gulf fritillary stands amongst blades of lemongrass with its wings outstretched.

This butterfly only held open its wings for a few seconds after each flight attempt, so spotting the true colors of the wings takes finding one in flight and then watching it land.

For a fourth, and final, view of the gulf fritillary, how about a head-on look?

A gulf fritillary [Agraulis vanillae incarnata] rests its foreleg on a blade of lemongrass [Cymbopogon sp.]. (Marc Perkins)
A gulf fritillary rests its foreleg on a blade of lemongrass.

Sleek and slim, complete with a coyly resting forelimb.

And in case you didn’t realize, all four of these images are of the exact same individual. It’s surprising how different it looks depending on angle and lighting.

The larvae reportedly only eat passion flower vines; I wonder which of my neighbors has one.

More pictures

To see more of my insect pictures, head to my Insects gallery.

It’s a bee!

It’s been a busy summer without much time for photography, but today I grabbed the camera and headed for my garden. I was happy to capture this closeup:

A bee (likely a honeybee; [Apis mellifera]) climbs a marjoram ([Origanum majorana]) inflorescence.  The bee's eye, antennae, wings, legs, and fine body hairs are all in focus, as are the pistils and stamen of some of the marjoram flowers. (Marc Perkins)
Bee on marjoram. Macro.

That’s a bee (likely a honeybee, Apis mellifera) on a marjoram (Origanum majorana) inflorescence.

Look at those antennae (I love the ball joint at the base), those big eyes filled with ocelli, veined wings, and all those lovely little hairs. She’s a beauty!

Many thanks to my good friend Hannah, who gave me a set of wireless flash triggers that played a key role in capturing this image.

More pictures

To see more of my insect pictures, head to my Insects gallery.

First tomatoes of the year: a lighting comparison

Michelle and I tend our backyard garden every summer, and one of our joys is seeing the first produce of the year slowly ripen on the plants. Just this week our first cherry tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum) are finally ripening, and so yesterday I took a few pictures of the glorious first fruits:

The first fruit of the year in our garden: two deliciously orange cherry tomatoes still "on the vine" (attached to the plant).  This plant is a "sun sugar" variety of tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) that we purchased from Orange Coast College's ornamental horticulture department.  This picture was taken in the field using natural lighting to create an in-vivo look. (Marc C. Perkins)
Two ripe Sun Sugar cherry tomatoes still attached to the plant, photographed using natural light only.

The tomatoes were in some nice diffusely-lit shade, and that’s what you see above – I used a tripod to stabilize the camera, but otherwise didn’t need anything else.

But since I’ve been having fun experimenting with off camera lighting recently, I decided to pull out my lighting gear and try some “studio” style lighting on the fruits.

The first fruit of the year in our garden: two deliciously orange cherry tomatoes still "on the vine" (attached to the plant).  This plant is a "sun sugar" variety of tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) that we purchased from Orange Coast College's ornamental horticulture department.  This picture was taken in the field using studio lighting (off camera flashes) to create a more dramatic look. (Marc C. Perkins)
The same two ripe Sun Sugar cherry tomatoes, photographed using “studio” lighting.

Those are the exact same fruits in the exact same position, but now they’ve been lit using the “invisible black background” technique I’ve described before1.

What a difference lighting makes! The black background makes the fruits pop out visually, thanks to less visual clutter, but I think it also makes the scene look more artificial (or as though it was taken at night). My favorite comment so far comes from my dad, who said that the fruit look like two “hot Jupiters”. Little tomato planets floating in space; I like it.

Footnotes

1 Two snooted flashes were setup, one on either side of the fruit, and I used my gray card to shade the background from the primary flash’s illumination. Both flashes also had great natural gobos: the branches of the plant itself.

More pictures

To see more of my plant-related pictures, head to my Botany and Mycology gallery collection.

Chainmail: Behind the scenes of getting a perfect black background

As I’ve posted before, Michelle loves to make chainmail. So, it wasn’t a surprise when she recently asked me to take a picture of her latest project1:

A european 8-in-1 copper chainmail bracelet with a sliding clasp.
A european 8-in-1 copper chainmail bracelet with a sliding clasp.

For the purposes of this post, note the background: it’s seamlessly black, with nothing at all visible. And that background was created with no work at all in Photoshop (other than removing a string I used to support the project) – it was created solely by careful placement of off-camera lights. As the method is pretty neat, I thought I’d show you how I did it.

The first technique most people think of for getting a black background is to, well, put something black behind the object. While this works, it requires careful lighting and spacing to ensure that the black object doesn’t become visible (as more than just solid black) in the image. I did just this outdoors with my amaryllis flower bud images, but I had to find flower buds with enough shaded space behind them to hang a black T-shirt on a spare chair well behind the depth of field of the image, and then whenever stray light hit the T-shirt you could see the folds in the fabric. Annoying.

For the maille bracelet I created a black background by putting absolutely nothing behind the maille. And I mean literally nothing: here’s what the maille looked like as I was setting it up:

A picture of the copper european 8-in-1 maille project seen in natural room lighting in my "studio".  The background has a colorful picture, lights, and other junk in it, which disappear thanks to the off-camera flashes which create an "invisible" black backdrop. (Marc C. Perkins)
The bracelet seen in natural room lighting in my "studio"; the metal rod on the right is the stand the bracelet is hanging from.

That is the exact positioning used for the final image you saw earlier, and yes, that is my living room wall 10′ behind the project. And a brightly colored lithograph. And IKEA lamps.
Continue reading Chainmail: Behind the scenes of getting a perfect black background

A new member of the family: Bertie!

Last week we got a new family member: Bertie!

Bertie, a blue tabby and white shorthair cat, looking outside in front of a mottled white background. (Marc C. Perkins)
Bertie looking sharp

We weren’t planning on adding another family member (haven’t you heard that before?), but Bertie adopted us and we couldn’t turn him down. Bertie is, as you can tell from the pictures, a blue tabby and white domestic shorthair cat.

Bertie, a blue tabby and white shorthair cat, relaxing on a bed all curled up with his eyes open looking out a window. (Marc C. Perkins)
Lazy day

Bertie was a stray; we first met him when he meowed outside our window as we were feeding our own cats. He was super-friendly right from the start, wanting no end of petting and company. We ended up catching him, and discovered (thanks to his chip) that he was an abandoned kitty: the owner registered on his chip no longer wanted him. 🙁

Bertie, a blue tabby and white shorthair cat, looking a bit surprised as he stares directly into the camera. (Marc C. Perkins)
I was abandoned 🙁

So, we’ve decided to give Bertie a home, with the blessing of the prior owner. He’s currently indoors, isolated from our other two cats as we wait on test results to make sure he won’t transmit anything to them. When we first met him he was starving and thus wolfing down food (he hunts about as well as your average pine tree), but he’s back to normal eating habits now. He’s also spent nearly all of his non-sleeping hours grooming himself.

Bertie is definitely into comfort:

Bertie, a blue tabby and white shorthair cat, laying on his side all cutely with his eyes closed and paws curled up. (Marc C. Perkins)
Nap time!

Continue reading A new member of the family: Bertie!

Planaria: adorable flatworms

Planarians are free-living aquatic flatworms that are staples of high school biology labs.  The species I was able to photograph, Dugesia tigrina, is fairly small, growing up to about an inch in length when stretched out.

A live brown speckled planarian {Dugesia tigrina} swimming in a dish full of water above a white background.  The light is coming from the left, and its shadow is subtly visible.  The pharynx (a tube the flatworm extends from its body for feeding) may be visible as a darkened tube in the middle of its body.  The planarian almost seems to be swimming as a sine wave. (Marc C. Perkins)
A live brown speckled planarian {Dugesia tigrina} swimming in a dish full of water above a white background. The light is coming from the left, and the worm's shadow is subtly visible. The pharynx (a tube the flatworm extends from its body for feeding) may be visible as a darkened tube in the middle of its body.

Planarians are utterly adorable.  Their heads have cute little eyespots (ocelli) that sense light and auricles (the triangular extensions) that reportedly sense water currents.  The eyespots lack lenses and a retina, so these cute little worms aren’t looking up at you and seeing your face, but they can detect the intensity and direction of light, allowing them to swim away from light (which is one of the easiest behaviors to observe in them; shine a light on them, and they’ll swim directly away from it). And when they move, they glide through the water with serpentine elegance.

A brown speckled planarian {Dugesia tigrina} swimming diagonally in a dish of water on a white background.  The planarian's eye spots (ocelli) and auricles are plainly visible in this closeup on its head. (Marc C. Perkins)
A brown speckled planarian {Dugesia tigrina} swimming diagonally in a dish of water on a white background. The planarian's eye spots (ocelli) and auricles are plainly visible in this closeup on its head.

The dark portions of the eye are not actually the photosensory nerves.  Instead, the dark portions are pigment-filled cells that partially surround the photosensory neurons, shading them from one side (thus allowing them to detect the direction of light without a lens, retina, or movable eye).

While many flatworms are parasitic, these planarians are not; they’re free-living omnivores that swim around in freshwater ponds nomming on whatever they can find.  In the lab we frequently feed them small pieces of liver or thymus.

A live brown speckled planarian {Dugesia tigrina} feeding on a small piece of Thymus.  The planarian's pharynx, a feeding tube that extends from its gastrovascular cavity (digestive tract) tract), is easily visible connecting the mid-section of the worm to the food.  These flatworms feed through their pharynx, which is located in the midsection of their body, not on their head.  The planarian's auricles and eye spots (ocelli) are planing visible. (Marc C. Perkins)
A live brown speckled planarian {Dugesia tigrina} feeding on a small piece of thymus. The planarian's pharynx, a feeding tube that extends from its gastrovascular cavity (digestive tract), is easily visible connecting the mid-section of the worm to the food.

The way flatworms feed is just awesome.  Instead of having a mouth at their head, they extend a tube (their pharynx) from the middle of their body and latch this tube onto their food.  They then “suck” the food up through this tube and into their digestive tract.

Speaking of guts, flatworms’ digestive tracts aren’t built like ours are: they have just a single opening that leads to and from their digestive track. This contrasts with our style of digestive tract, which has two openings: a mouth and an anus.  The planarian style of digestive tract is called a gastrovascular cavity, and it can be seen in the following image of a preserved planarian slide:

Planarian with a stained gut 2
A whole preserved planarian seen through a compound microscope after the gut has been filled with ink. The head is visible at the left, most notably the ocelli (eye spots) and auricles (triangular outgrowths from the head). In the center of the body is the pharynx, a long tubular structure that is extended from the body to feed. The pharynx connects to the gastrovascular cavity at the left end of the tube. The gastrovascular cavity extends throughout their body; in this individual it has been filled with black ink.

And yes, this does mean that digested food has only one way out: through the same opening that they used to get the food in.

Planarians are used in biology labs primarily thanks to their easy availability from biological supply houses ability to regrow tissues from traumatic injuries: when cut in half they can regrow the other half of their bodies. This is because while they can reproduce sexually using sperm and eggs, they can also reproduce asexually via fragmentation. Fragmentation is a reproduction mechanism wherein an organism literally pulls itself in half, with both halves growing into complete new organisms. This leads to the classic high school biology “experiment” wherein students cut flatworms in half and wait for them to regrow. We won’t be doing that here. But this picture of two flatworms swimming next to each other almost looks like it 🙂

The head of one brown speckled planarian {Dugesia tigrina} swimming up positioned next to the tail of a second planarian swimming down in a dish of water on a white background.  The planarian's eye spots (ocelli) and auricles are plainly visible in this closeup on its head.  Both head and tail are angled up and to the left. (Marc C. Perkins)
The head of one brown speckled planarian {Dugesia tigrina} swimming up positioned next to the tail of a second planarian swimming down in a dish of water on a white background.

I get live planarians each semester to show my biology classes, but sadly most students just give them a passing glance. Next time you get a chance to observe these cuties, put them in a dish of water, get a dissecting microscope and some liver, and plan to spend some time with them. They’re great fun!

A brown speckled planarian {Dugesia tigrina} turning in a circle on a white background.  The planarian's eye spots (ocelli) and auricles are plainly visible on its head.  The tail of the planarian is looped under the middle of the body, forming a circle. (Marc C. Perkins)
A brown speckled planarian {Dugesia tigrina} turning in a circle on a white background. The planarian's eye spots (ocelli) and auricles are plainly visible on its head.

Cat eyes on a Friday

Last weekend I got a few more pictures of my cats, this time focusing on the eye (as opposed to the tongue or third eyelid). Lucca was a great model with her beautiful green eyes and blue patched tabby and white fur:

A closeup of Lucca, a blue patched tabby and white shorthair house cat, looking up at something exciting.  I like her attentive, alert expression that shows off her cute "old rose" nose and her bright green eyes.  The fur on the top of her nose is also in sharp focus, showing off the different directions it lays.  The background is off white, and out of focus. (Marc C. Perkins)
What's up there?
This vertically-cropped image is a closeup of a blue patched tabby and white domestic shorthair cat's face, focusing on the eye.  I don't take too many vertical images of my cats up close, and often don't like them, but this is an exception. (Marc C. Perkins)
Vertical eye closeup: I don't take too many vertical images of my cats up close; this is a happy exception.
A closeup of the green eye of a blue patched tabby and white shorthair house cat.  The depth of field is a bit shallow, but a large portion of her eye and the fur around her eye are in focus. (Marc C. Perkins)
Eye closeup: looking in or looking out?

The first one makes a great desktop background (and no, I’m not biased at all …); in fact, I can see Lucca’s nose and whiskers poking out just to the right of the window I’m writing this in 🙂

Have a great weekend!

More pictures

To see more of my cat pictures, head to my Cats Gallery, my Cat Closeups Gallery, or my Cat Tongue Closeups Gallery.

Poinsettia flowers part three: the female parts. Stigmas, styles, and ovaries ahoy!

A closeup of a poinsettia flower cluster from directly above it. Many people confuse the bracts (red leaves) with the petals of flowers; they're quite different.   This macro shot shows a number of bracts (colored leaves associated with a flower) surrounding the flowers (green, red, and yellow structures) and extending out of the frame.  The flowers themselves are called cyanthia; the green tissue surrounding each flower is an involucre, a cluster of bracts (leaves) fused into a cup-shaped structure that contains multiple male flowers and one female flower within it.  Emerging from the involucre you can see red filaments supporting yellow anthers on the male flowers; a single female flower should be emerging from the center of each flower.  The bright yellow, liquid-filled structures attached to the involucre are nectar glands filled with yummy sweet nectar to attract pollinators; on less-developed flowers they look like little light-green lips. (Marc C. Perkins)
A closeup of a poinsettia flower cluster from directly above.

[This is the third in a series of three posts. The first post is: Poinsettias up close: where are the flowers? and the second post is: Poinsettia flower closeups take two: getting even closer]

In my previous two posts on poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) flowers I showed that the flowers are much smaller than most folks think (the large red structures are bracts, not petals) and was able to get some closeups of the inflorescences illustrating their anatomy.

In case you’ve forgotten, the inflorescences of poinsettias are not your typical boring flower: multiple male flowers and a single female flower are surrounded by a sphere of fused bracts called an involucre, out of which the flowers emerge. The involucres often have nectar glands on them, which look like two green or yellow lips.

A closeup of a poinsettia flower cluster from the side.  Many people confuse the bracts (red leaves) with the actual flowers; they're quite different.   This macro shot shows multiple pseudanthia (flowering structures) surrounded by a sea of red bracts (colored leaves associated with a flower).  The flowers themselves are called cyanthia; the green tissue surrounding each flower is an involucre, a cluster of bracts (leaves) fused into a cup-shaped structure that contains multiple male flowers and one female flower within it.  Emerging from the involucre you can see red filaments supporting yellow anthers on the male flowers, and you can even see some of the pollen grains.  Also emerging from each involucre you can see a number of dark-purple structures supported by short stalks (that are about a tenth of the height of the filaments; I'm not sure what these are).   The bright yellow, liquid-filled structures attached to the involucre are nectar glands filled with nectar to attract pollinators. (Marc C. Perkins)
A closeup of a poinsettia flower cluster from the side. The involucre are the large green structures tipped with red, with male flowers emerging from them.

Frustratingly, when I took that first set of pictures I couldn’t find any female flowers on the plants I had. I’ve since learned that this is because the female flowers only develop and extend out of the involucre after the male flowers have matured and produced their pollen (reducing the likelihood of self pollination).  So, I waited, and yesterday finally got a chance to photograph the female flowers up close.

Here’s what a female flower looks like coming out of the involucre:

A single female poinsettia flower with stigma, style, and ovary can be seen emerging from its involucre (cluster of bracts fused together).  The involucre also has a nectar gland emerging from it (that look like two lips).  The entire inflorescence (involcure and female flower) is called a cyanthium.  The red leaves surrounding the inflorescences (mostly out of focus, except for the one next to the female flower) are bracts.  The scale bar is 5mm long. (Marc C. Perkins)
A single female poinsettia flower with stigma, style, and ovary can be seen emerging from its involucre. The scale bar is 5mm long.

There you can see the divided stigma (where pollen need to be deposited if they are to fertilize the flower’s eggs), the swollen ovary just barely protruding from the involucre, and the style connecting those two.

For more context, we can see that the maturing female flower is next to cyanthia filled with withered male flowers:

A single female poinsettia flower with stigma, style, and ovary can be seen emerging from its involucre (cluster of bracts fused together) on the right half of this image; the involucre also has a nectar gland emerging from it (that look like two yellow-green lips).  The entire inflorescence (involcure and female flower) is called a cyanthium.  On the left of the image a number of withered male flowers and their nectar glands can be seen emerging from shriveled involucres.  The red leaves surrounding the inflorescences (mostly out of focus) are bracts. (Marc C. Perkins)
A single female poinsettia flower with stigma, style, and ovary can be seen emerging from its involucre on the right half of this image; on the left a number of withered male flowers and their nectar glands can be seen emerging from shriveled involucres.

Those withered male flowers were actually quite delicate, and likely only remained on the plant because it was kept indoors and shielded from most disturbances.  I delicately put a ruler into the scene to get a scale bar after the shoot, and in doing so knocked off most of the male flowers.

In the image above the female flower is just poking out a little bit.  Looking around on the plant I found one that had extended far out of the involucre, supported by a large stalk (pedicel) that was longer than the stigma and style put together:

A single female poinsettia flower with stigma, style, and enlarged ovary can be seen emerging from its involucre (cluster of bracts fused together) on a thick pedicel (stalk) that's almost as long as the flower itself.  Also emerging from the involucre are a number of withered male flowers (stamen and anthers both visible) that still have yellow pollen on them.  The involucre has a nectar gland emerging from it (that look like two yellow lips).  The involucre also has small saucer shaped structures emerging from it; I'm not sure what they are (they're more easily visible in my other poinsettia pictures).  The entire inflorescence (involcure, male flowers, and female flower) is called a cyanthium.  The cyanthium is growing up from a stem's branching point, where a bract is emerging.  The red leaves surrounding the inflorescences (mostly out of focus) are bracts.  The scale bar (at the bottom) is 5mm long. (Marc C. Perkins)
A single female poinsettia flower emerging from its involucre (along with some withered male flowers) on a thick pedicel. The scale bar (at the bottom) is 5mm long.

And that, my kind readers, is what poinsettia flowers look like in a single image: one female flower and multiple male flowers emerging from an involucre that has a nectar gland on it and is surrounded by bright red bracts.

Thanks for reading!

More pictures

To see more of my poinsettia pictures, head to my Poinsettia Gallery.

Cat anatomy: the barbed tongue

I recently found myself sorting through a folder that contained a few dozen pictures of my cats in various poses, the sole consistent element being that they were sticking their tongues out at me. How this came to be started with this image:

Lucca closes her eyes as she licks her paw, showing off dozens of her tongue barbs (filiform papillae). I love cats cleaning themselves! (Marc C. Perkins)

I was sitting in my living room watching Lucca clean herself, as cats do, and I took a few pictures of her, as I do. But when I processed the images and saw her tongue in this one, I was entranced. I’d always known that cats have barbed tongues, but knowing something and seeing it are two different things. I then set about to get a few good images of cat tongues, and the above-mentioned folder of dozens of tongue-sticking-out images resulted.1

When cats clean themselves, their tongues are typically out for far too short of a time to see the barbs in any detail with the naked eye (at least not with my eyesight). And the tip of the tongue, which is the most likely part of their tongue a human will see, actually has no long barbs, as Kira kindly demonstrates in this picture:

Kira, a brown tabby, licking Lucca, a blue patched tabby and white. Only the tip of Kira's tongue is out, showing how the tip of a cat's tongue is lacking in the large barbs (filiform papillae). However, a few small ones can be seen on the tongue near her mouth. (Marc C. Perkins)

Getting tongue pictures showing the barbs was not trivial2, but for those of you looking for closeups of cats naturally licking, here are three closeups showing a front, three-quarters, and side angle:

A closeup of a cat's tongue from straight-on as the cat licks a sheepskin rug. Numerous barbs (spines; filiform papillae) are clearly visible across the width of the tongue. The papillae are largest in the middle of the tongue, and get progressive smaller towards the edges of the tongue. See the cropped version of this image for more detail on the tongue. (Marc C. Perkins)

A closeup of a cat's tongue from a three-quarters angle as the cat licks a sheepskin rug. Numerous barbs (spines; filiform papillae) are clearly visible across the width of the tongue. The papillae are largest in the middle of the tongue, and get progressive smaller towards the edges of the tongue. The three-quarters angle allows the viewer to better see the height of the barbs. See the cropped version of this image for more detail on the tongue. (Marc C. Perkins)

A closeup of a cat's tongue from a side view as the cat licks her paw (with a single claw and pads visible). Numerous barbs (spines; filiform papillae) are clearly visible across the top surface of the tongue. this side view emphasizes the height of the barbs (the largest are almost half the thickness of the tongue), and shows that they're angled back only slightly. See the cropped version of this image for more detail on the tongue. (Marc C. Perkins)

The barbs or spines are called filiform papillae. They’re opaque, hardened with keratin, and arise from widened bases that cover the tongue. The barbs are longer in the center of the tongue, and slowly get shorter towards the sides and front. These are what makes a cat’s tongue feel rough, like sandpaper, when it licks you.

The details on barbs may be a bit tough to see in those pictures, since they’re all essentially uncropped (to show context); but here’s what you really came for: closeups of the tongue focusing on the papillae3.

This is a crop of the "Cat tongue closeup: front view" image, focusing on the tongue. The original image is a closeup of a cat's tongue from straight-on as she licks a sheepskin rug. Numerous barbs (spines; filiform papillae) are clearly visible across the width of the tongue. The papillae are largest in the middle of the tongue, and get progressive smaller towards the edges of the tongue. (Marc C. Perkins)

This is a crop of the "Cat tongue closeup: 3/4 view" image, focusing on the tongue. The original image is a closeup of a cat's tongue from a three-quarters angle as the cat licks a sheepskin rug. Numerous barbs (spines; filiform papillae) are clearly visible across the width of the tongue. The papillae are largest in the middle of the tongue, and get progressive smaller towards the edges of the tongue. The three-quarters angle allows the viewer to better see the height of the barbs. See the uncropped version of this image for more context. (Marc C. Perkins)

This is a crop of the "Cat tongue closeup: side view" image, focusing on the tongue. The original image was a closeup of a cat's tongue from a side view as the cat licks her paw . Numerous barbs (spines; filiform papillae) are clearly visible across the top surface of the tongue, and additional papillae (fungiform papillae) are visible on the side and bottom of the tongue. This side view emphasizes the height at attachment of the barbs (the largest are almost half the thickness of the tongue), and shows that they're angled back only slightly. This is also one of the few images I've seen showing the back of a cat's tongue in a natural position. See the uncropped version of this image for more context. (Marc C. Perkins)

Friendly cats often groom each other, and so I absolutely have to include a picture of Lucca cleaning Kira while showing off her tongue barbs:

Lucca, a blue patched tabby and white cat, licks Kira, a brown tabby. I love it when cats curl up together on a couch and groom each other! Lucca's eyes are closed while her tongue is extended, which clearly shows the filiform papillae (spines or barbs) on the top surface of the tongue. Her nose, whiskers, fur, and closed eyes are also clearly in focus. (Marc C. Perkins)

And I can’t resist ending with a silly picture of Kira looking cross-eyed as she cleans her front paw:

Kira, a brown tabby, grooms her front paw, which is curled over super-cutely. I love this image because of Kira's wacky expression: she looks almost cross-eyed, and almost seems to be sticking her tongue out at the camera. Instead, she's just licking her front paw, which is folded back towards her face, showing you the very dense concentration of filiform papillae (barbs or spines) on her tongue. (Marc C. Perkins)

1 Try looking at 40-odd pictures of someone sticking their tongue out at you; it’s an odd experience.
2 It helps that Lucca goes through phases where she licks a sheepskin rug regularly.
3 Yes, these three tongue closeups are indeed just crops of the pictures above.  Have I mentioned how much I love my Canon 60mm macro lens, and just how insanely sharp it is?

More pictures

To see more pictures focusing on cat tongues, head to my Cat Tongue Closeups Gallery. To see more of my general cat pictures, head to my Cats Gallery or my Cat Closeups Gallery.

 

[Update: Two of these images were used to illustrate an article in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery; read more about that here.]