Photo by GoodFocused/Shutterstock.com
Flamingos are unique creatures with plenty of iconic idiocracies, but perhaps one of the most fascinating aspects of these beautiful birds is their tongues.
Flamingo tongues are one-of-a-kind. That might seem odd to you - a bird’s tongue is special? How? Why? Don’t worry, just sit back, relax, and let me answer all of your questions (regarding flamingos, I’m not your therapist).
Why Flamingo Tongues Are So Fascinating
They Can Withstand Near-Boiling Water
Yes, you read that correctly. Flamingo tongues can handle the heat of almost-boiling water, which is extremely metal.
Sometimes, the only place where flamingos can find the freshwater meals they crave in geysers with obnoxiously-hot water. What’s a hungry flamingo to do, not eat? Of course not! You can’t stop a flamingo that easily.
The fabulous fowls will dip their heads into these scalding shallows and filter through it for their tasty morsels, just like they do in more temperate waters. The fact that the water is nearly boiling doesn’t matter. You don’t get between a flamingo and its food.
Flamingo Tongues Are Rough & Spiky
You won’t want a flamingo to lick you.
Flamingo tongues are rough and spiky. This allows the bird to use its tongue to sift through sand and debris to scoop out the good stuff while feeding and not experience any issues. Otherwise, things would get bloody.
Flamingos Don’t Have Teeth, They Have Tongues
Don’t believe me that flamingo tongues are tough? Their tongues are their teeth.
Not that flamingos are chewing up their food with their tongues like you and I do with our teeth. Rather, the fowl uses its tongue to force its fuel down its gullet, and that’s only possible in part because of how spiky and hard its tongue is.
Illustration of a flamingo tongue - Photo by NicolasPrimola/Shutterstock.com
Flamingo Tongues Were Once a Delicacy
Back in the day - and I mean way back in the day - flamingo tongues were considered a delicacy.
In ancient Rome, the tongues of the fabulous fowl were a meal of status. Flamingos were plentiful in Africa, which the Romans controlled the northernmost portion of, and their eating utensil became a favorite snack for the empire’s elite.
The Romans used to kill flamingos just to eat their tongues.— cannibalism scrapbook (@cannibalscraps) March 14, 2023
Don't give me ideas. Your tongue is very chatty.
It’s not entirely clear why flamingo tongues specifically came to play this role in ancient Roman society, but we know from historians of that period that they were.