Definition of heterocercal in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˌhedərōˈsərk(ə)l/


(Of a fish’s tail) having unequal upper and lower lobes, usually with the vertebral column passing into the upper. Contrasted with diphycercal, homocercal.
Example sentences
  • The tail is heterocercal, with the upper lobe containing long, thread-like filaments.
  • The body shows well-developed paired lateral fins (presumably true pectoral fins), indicating good stability, dorsal and anal fins, and a heterocercal tail (the lower lobe of the tail is elongated).
  • The sturgeon heterocercal tail is extremely flexible and the upper tail lobe trails the lower during the fin beat cycle.


Mid 19th century: from hetero- 'other' + Greek kerkos 'tail'.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: het·er·o·cer·cal

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