‘THE Tongue … is an Organic Part, the Instrument both of Tast and Speech, and the assistant for the swallowing of Meat and drink, seated in the Mouth under the Palate. The Shape. I. It is oblong, broad, of a Moderate bigness answerable to the Mouth, and toward the Root of a remarkable thickness, but somewhat thinner toward the Lip’.
Ysbrand van Diemerbroeck, The Anatomy of Human Bodies … Translated … by William Salmon (London, 1689), pp 480–1.
William Cowper, Myotomia reformata (London, 1694), fig. V: muscles of the tongue.
William Cowper (166/7–1710), was by no means the first to describe the muscles of the tongue – the noted sixteenth-century professor of anatomy at Padua, Giulio Cesare Casseri (fl, 1552–1616), had provided a description in his seminal work on the organs of the voice and respiration and the organs of hearing, the ear, De vocis auditusque organis historia anatomica singulari fide methodo ac industria concinnata tractativus duobus explicata ac variis iconibus aere excusis illustrata … (Ferrara, 1601). As Riva et al, note, Casseri, unlike his contemporaries, ‘did not consider the tongue as made up by a single muscle’ and instead described the extrinsic muscles of the tongue and the suprahyoid and infrahyoid muscles’.
Cowper, in his Myotomia reformata (London, 1694), noted that by his time ‘Authors assign various Numbers of Muscles to this Part. Some reckoning Eight, others Nine, some Ten, and others Eleven, amongst which they count the Tongue itself’. Cowper, basing his analysis on dissection, proffered the following key to the above image of the muscles of the tongue:
Shews the Under side of the Tongue with its Muscles.
A, The Apex or Tip of the Tongue.
B, Its Basis or Root freed from the Os Hyoides.
CC, The Musculi Ceratoglossi.
a, A Branch of the Gustatory Nerve.
Lorenz Heister, L’Anatomie d’Heister avec des essais de physique sur l’usage des parties du corps humain, et sur le méchanisme de leurs mouvemens. Enrichie de nouvelles figures… Par J. D** de la Faculté de Montpellier (Paris, 1724), planche IV: image a tongue.
The German anatomist Lorenz Heister (1683–1758), was clearly very impressed by Cowper’s work on the muscles of the tongue and praised the above image in his own book on human anatomy, a textbook which Worth had in a French 1724 edition. Heister describes the muscles of the tongue as follows:
‘The TONGUE, has three pair of Muscules, viz.
- The Genio-Glossus, this takes its rise under the Genio-Hyoides, and pulls the Tongue out of the Mouth.
- The Cerato-Glossus, has its Origin from the Basis and Horn of the Os Hyoides, and is the Antagonist of the former.
- The Stylo-Glossus, rises from the Processus Styloides. This moves the Tongue sideways and pulls it upwards.
The Basio-Glossus, which some add here, is only a part of the Cerato-GLossus. And the Mylo-Glossus is a part of the Mylo-Hyoides, hence it appears that there is no need of forming peculiar Muscles of these.
Plaster model of head and neck dissected medially to show sinuses, tongue, thyroid gland, jugular vein and carotid artery. Created by German sculptor Franz Josef Steger circa the turn of the 20th century. Courtesy of the Old Anatomy Museum, School of Medicine, Trinity College Dublin.
This anatomical model by Franz Josef Steger shows a dissection of the head of a woman, with a portion of the face removed to show sinuses, tongue, thyroid gland, and vasculature. Each structure is painted to differentiate it from its surroundings while retaining a somewhat natural palette. Active in the turn of the 20th century, Steger (1845–1938) created his models under the instruction of anatomist Willhelm His (1831–1904), professor at the University of Leipzig. Steger–His models were popular in medical schools and can be found in historical medical collections across the world. The Old Anatomy Museum in Trinity College has an extensive collection of Steger models ranging from the 1880s to the 1930s.
Text: Dr Elizabethanne Boran, Librarian of the Edward Worth Library, and Ms Evi Numen, the Curator of the Old Anatomy Museum, Trinity College Dublin.
Cornwall, John and Chris Smith, ‘Anatomical models by F.J. Steger (1845-1938): the University of Otago Collection’, Department of Anatomy, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand (2014) https://eurjanat.com/data/pdf/eja.140018jc.pdf
Cowper, William, Myotomia reformata (London, 1694).
Heister, Lorenz, A Compendium of Anatomy (London, 1721).
Riva, Alessandro et al., ‘Iulius Casserius (1552–1616): The self-made anatomist of Padua’s Golden Age’, Anatomical Record (New Anat.), 265 (2001), 168–75.
Van Diemerbroeck, Ysbrand, The Anatomy of Human Bodies … Translated … by William Salmon (London, 1689)
Żytkowski, Andrzej and Jerzy Walocha, ‘Anatomical studies on larynx and voice production in historical perspective’, Polia Medica Cracoviensia, LX, no 3 (2020), 85–98.
 Riva, Alessandro et al., ‘Iulius Casserius (1552–1616): The self-made anatomist of Padua’s Golden Age’, Anatomical Record (New Anat.), 265 (2001), 172.
 Cowper, William, Myotomia reformata (London, 1694), p. 78.
 Heister, Lorenz, A Compendium of Anatomy (London, 1721), pp 264-5. Worth owned the 1724 edition.
 Cornwall, John and Chris Smith, ‘Anatomical models by F.J. Steger (1845-1938): the University of Otago Collection’, Department of Anatomy, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand (2014).