• synonyms


[het-er-uh-sur-kuh l]
adjective Ichthyology.
  1. having an unequally divided tail, characteristic of sharks, rays, and skates.
Show More

Origin of heterocercal

1830–40; hetero- + Greek kérk(os) a tail + -al1
Related formshet·er·o·cer·cal·i·ty [het-er-oh-ser-kal-i-tee] /ˌhɛt ər oʊ sərˈkæl ɪ ti/, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for heterocercal

Historical Examples of heterocercal

  • The tail may be heterocercal, as in Acipenser, or diphycercal as in Polypterus.

    The Vertebrate Skeleton

    Sidney H. Reynolds

  • The caudal fin is at first symmetrical, but a special lower lobe grows out and gives to it a heterocercal character.

  • The tail is asymmetrical (heterocercal), and numerous placoid scales (dermal denticles) are embedded in the skin.

  • They have small scales, a heterocercal tail, and two dorsal fins with a strong spine in front.

  • The heterocercal tail is one in which the hindmost vertebræ are bent upwards.

British Dictionary definitions for heterocercal


  1. ichthyol of or possessing a tail in which the vertebral column turns upwards and extends into the upper, usually larger, lobe, as in sharksCompare homocercal
Show More

Word Origin for heterocercal

C19: from hetero- + Greek kerkos tail
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012