Also found in: Thesaurus, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
click for a larger image
tail of a leopard shark
Triakis semifasciata


Relating to, having, or being a tail fin in which the upper lobe is larger than the lower and the vertebral column extends into the upper lobe, as in sharks.

[hetero- + Greek kerkos, tail + -al.]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


(Zoology) ichthyol of or possessing a tail in which the vertebral column turns upwards and extends into the upper, usually larger, lobe, as in sharks. Compare homocercal
[C19: from hetero- + Greek kerkos tail]
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(ˌhɛt ər əˈsɜr kəl)

designating or having a tail fin in which the upper lobe is larger than the lower lobe, as in sharks.
[1830–40; hetero- + Greek kérk(os) tail + -al1]
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Adj.1.heterocercal - possessing a tail with the upper lobe larger than the lower and with the vertebral column prolonged into the upper lobe
ichthyology - the branch of zoology that studies fishes
homocercal - possessing a symmetrical tail that extends beyond the end of the vertebral column (as in most bony fishes)
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
Function of the heterocercal tail in sharks: quantitative wake dynamics during steady horizontal swimming and vertical maneuvering.
Its external morphology, heterocercal fins, type of scale and its highly vascularized swim bladder, place it as a primitive fish (Paramo, 1982).
It shows an elongated fish-like creature with a mouthful of large triangular teeth, with the right number of fins for a shark, a heterocercal tail, and a human foot protruding from its mouth.