noun (plural cercariae /-ˈke(ə)rēˌē/)Zoology
A free-swimming larval stage in which a parasitic fluke passes from an intermediate host (typically a snail) to another intermediate host or to the final vertebrate host.
- Tadpoles in ponds with snails pick up trematode larvae, called cercariae.
- Once the cercaria enters the second intermediate host, it sheds its tail and becomes a metacercaria, which is little more than a miniature, but sexually immature, adult, that may, or may not, encyst.
- Inside these slime balls are cercariae of the fluke, nicely encased in a ‘mini’ aquatic habitat, albeit a temporary one.
Mid 19th century: modern Latin, formed irregularly from Greek kerkos 'tail'.
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