One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
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.
- ‘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.’
- ‘The larvae inside the snail host produce several thousands of cercariae.’
- ‘Only the tadpoles that were exposed to cercariae developed deformities.’
- ‘Tadpoles in ponds with snails pick up trematode larvae, called cercariae.’
Mid 19th century: modern Latin, formed irregularly from Greek kerkos ‘tail’.
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