Operculum (animal)

A live individual of the sea snail Rapana venosa retracted into the shell, with the operculum closing the aperture
Firing sequence of the cnida in a hydra's nematocyst[1]
     Operculum (lid)
     "Finger" that turns inside out
/ / / Barbs
     Victim's skin
     Victim's tissues

An operculum is an anatomical feature, a stiff structure resembling a lid or a small door that opens and closes, and thus controls contact between the outside world and an internal part of an animal. Examples include:

  • An operculum (gastropod), a single lid that (in its most complete form) closes the aperture of the shell when the animal is retracted, and thus protects the internal soft parts of the animal that are not completely covered by the shell. The operculum lies on the top rear part of the foot. When the foot is retracted, the operculum is rotated 180° and closes the shell.[2]
  • An operculum (fish), a flap that covers the gills in bony fishes and chimaeras.
  • The cover that rapidly opens a cnida of a cnidarian such as a jellyfish or a sea anemone. The lid may be a single hinged flap or three hinged flaps arranged like slices of pie.[1][3]
  • In insects, the operculum is the name for one or more lids covering the tympanal cavity. A subgenital operculum is exhibited in phasmoidea and grasshoppers and allies (orthoptera).[4]

See alsoEdit

  • Aptychus: A structure in ammonites which usually consists of two plates, and which was long thought to be a form of double operculum, but which more recently has been proposed to have been a jaw mechanism.


  1. ^ a b Ruppert, E.E.; Fox, R.S. & Barnes, R.D. (2004). "Cnidaria". Invertebrate Zoology (7th ed.). Brooks / Cole. pp. 112–124. ISBN 0-03-025982-7.
  2. ^ Ruppert, E.E.; Fox, R.S. & Barnes, R.D. (2004). "Gastropoda". Invertebrate Zoology (7th ed.). Brooks / Cole. pp. 309–313. ISBN 0-03-025982-7.
  3. ^ Hinde, R.T. (1998). "The Cnidaria and Ctenophora". In Anderson, D.T. (ed.). Invertebrate Zoology. Oxford University Press. pp. 28–57. ISBN 0-19-551368-1.
  4. ^ Zombori, Lajos (1999). Dictionary of Insect Morphology. Walter de Gruyter. p. 164. ISBN 3110148986.