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, roof of the mouth. The front part, known as the hard palate, formed by the upper maxillary bones and the palatine bones, separates the mouth from the nasal cavity. It is composed of a bone plate covered with a layer of mucous membrane tissue.
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(also palatine uvula), a cone-shaped extension of the soft palate in humans and some anthropoid apes. The uvula departs from the middle of the posterior margin of the palate and proceeds with the apex downward. It is covered by a mucous membrane. The anterior side of the uvula faces the mouth, and the posterior side the nasopharynx. The uvula has its own tensor and levator muscles. When food reaches the throat and comes into contact with the uvula, the latter, along with the entire soft palate, rises by reflex action and thus enables the food to pass from the mouth into the pharynx. The human uvula also aids in hermetically sealing the mouth to prevent the jaw from sagging when the body is vertical. Parts of the oral appendages of different origins in some arthropods (crustaceans, arachnids, and insects) are also called uvulas.