Cephalopod Digestive System Terminology

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

Cephalopoda Glossary

The digestive systems of various coleoid taxa can be compared here.


Anal flaps (= anal valves) - A pair of muscular palps that arise at the sides of the anus in most coleoids.

Anterior salivary glands - A pair of glands of the digestive system associated with the buccal mass. The function of the glands is poorly known but thought ot be primarily in mucous production.

Buccal mass - The muscular bulb that contains the beaks, radula, various glands and the pharynx.

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Drawing modified from Mangold and Young, 1998.

Caecal sac - The sac-like, thin-walled posterior portion of the caecum that lacks the internal, ciliated leaflets characteristic of the anterior portion of the caecum; present in some decapodiforms.

Caecum - A major organ of the digestive system that is a primary site of absorption. It joins the stomach "upstream" and the intestine "downstream." Digestive enzymes enter the caecum in the ducts from the digestive gland.

Crop - Expansion (i.e. a broading) or a diverticulum (i.e., a side pocket) of the esophagus for storing food. Present in Nautilus and most octopodiforms.

Digestive gland - Primary organ in cephalopods that secretes digestive enzymes. It is also important in absorption and excretion.

Digestive gland duct appendages (DiGDA) - Outpockets of the ducts leading from the digestive gland that are covered with glandular epithelium.

Esophagus - The portion of the digestive tract between the buccal mass and the stomach. Often a portion of the esophagus is enlarged to form a crop.

Lips - The inner and outer lips surround the mouth and possess numerous ridges or papillae.

Stomach - A muscular organ of the digestive system generally lined with cuticular ridges to grind-up food with the aid of digestive enzymes. The stomach may be greatly expandable in size and serve as a storage area, in species lacking a crop, until food can be fully processed.


Mangold, K. M. and R. E. Young 1998. The systematic value of the digestive organs. In: N. A. Voss, M. Vecchione, R. B. Toll, and M. J. Sweeney (eds.) Systematics and biogeography of cephalopods, Vol. 1, Smithson. Contrib. Zoology, No. 586: 21-30.

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

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