One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Treated as plural. An order of cirripede crustaceans (barnacles) which are highly specialized parasites of decapod crustaceans, having most adult organs reduced or absent, and sending rootlike absorptive processes into the host's body; (also rhizocephala) crustaceans of this order (collectively or individually).
Mid 19th century; earliest use found in The Zoologist: a miscellany of natural history. From scientific Latin Rhizocephala, order name from rhizo- + ancient Greek κεϕαλή head + scientific Latin -a.
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