This study, facilitated by the use of immunohistochemistry, indicated the presence of
taste buds in Dromaius novaehollandiae but not in Struthio camelus. Seen at the
light microscope level, the taste buds consisted of follicular cells and receptor cells.
The follicular cells were located at the periphery of the taste bud, essentially
encapsulating the receptor cells. Two morphologically distinct receptor cells were
identified. Immunohistochemical labelling for neurofilament identified gustatory
nerves within the taste bud. The distribution of taste buds in D. novaehollandiae
matched strategic locations in the oropharynx along which food could be sampled,
according to the feeding method described for these birds. Future feeding studies
would be necessary in D. novaehollandiae to determine the importance of taste
discrimination in their diet. This study represents the first confirmed report of a sense
of taste in any ratite species.