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Pronunciation: sko'leks, sko'le-sez, sko'li-sez

Definition: The head or anterior end of a tapeworm attached by suckers, and frequently by rostellar hooks, to the wall of the intestine; it is formed within the hydatid cyst in Echinococcus, within a cysticercus in Taenia, a cysticercoid in Hymenolepis, or by a plerocercoid, as in Diphyllobothrium latum. The form of the scolex varies greatly, the most familiar being rounded or club-shaped with four circular muscular suckers and an armed or unarmed rostellum, or a spatulate flattened scolex with a pair of slitlike suckers (bothria) and no rostellum, as in Diphyllobothrium and its allies. Other forms have complex leaflike, cup-shaped, or fimbriated shapes, or retractile, multiply spined proboscides. These varied forms characterize the orders of cestodes, which are particularly well developed as parasites of sharks and skates or rays.

[G. skolex, a worm]

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© Copyright 2018 Wolters Kluwer. All Rights Reserved. Review date: Sep 19, 2016.