Cephalopoda Fin Cartilage

Richard E. Young, Michael Vecchione, and Katharina M. Mangold (1922-2003)

Cephalopoda Glossary

The fin cartilage in decapodiforms is a small, flat cartilage at the base of the fin that the fin muscles attach to. The cartilage in turn attaches to the shell sac which tightly envelops the shell. In octopodiforms, however, the fin cartilage is much more extensive, extending well down the fin axis laterally but maintains attachment to the shell sac and shell proximally. Although the cartilage is flexible, it presumably aids in maintaining the somewhat rigid form of the fin. The fins of octopodiforms are very differently shaped from those of decapodiforms and have a different swimming action.

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Figure. Dorsal view of a fin, the shell and the shell cartilage of the cirrate octopod, Cirroctopus glacialis. An isolated fin (left) and an isolated fin cartilage (right)  attach to the shell via the shell sac (the shell sac is a thin, tough membrane tightly covering the shell and is not apparent in the drawing). Drawing modified from Young and Vecchione and Young (1996).


Young, R. E. and M. Vecchione 1996. Analysis of morphology to determine primary sister-taxon relationships within coleoid cephalopods. Am. malacol. Bull. 12: 91-112.

About This Page

University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI, USA

National Museum of Natural History, Washington, D. C. , USA

Katharina M. Mangold (1922-2003)
Laboratoire Arago, Banyuls-Sur-Mer, France

Page: Tree of Life Cephalopoda Fin Cartilage Authored by Richard E. Young, Michael Vecchione, and Katharina M. Mangold (1922-2003). The TEXT of this page is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License - Version 3.0. Note that images and other media featured on this page are each governed by their own license, and they may or may not be available for reuse. Click on an image or a media link to access the media data window, which provides the relevant licensing information. For the general terms and conditions of ToL material reuse and redistribution, please see the Tree of Life Copyright Policies.

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