The world’s most explosive tongue


Salamander_hmed_10a_1 The giant palm salamander of Central America shoots out its tongue with more instantaneous power than any known muscle in the animal kingdom, a new study finds. The salamander, Bolitoglossa dofleini, can shoot out its tongue with 18,000 watts of power per kilogram of muscle. This is nearly double the power output of the previous champ, the Colorado River toad Bufo alvarius. Bolitoglossa can extend its tongue more than half its body length in about 7 milliseconds, or about 50 times faster than an average eye blink.

How the salamander achieves its record power output is still unclear. Tongue-launching systems in other animals require three components: a motor to generate energy, a spring to store the energy and a latch to control the timing of unloading of the spring. Scientists have so far identified only the motor in the salamander system.

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