Sucker (zoology)

A sucker in zoology refers to a specialised attachment organ of an animal. It acts as an adhesion device in parasitic worms, several flatworms, cephalopods, certain fishes, amphibians, and bats. It is a muscular structure for suction on a host or substrate. In parasitic annelids, flatworms and roundworms, suckers are the organs of attachment to the host tissues. In tapeworms and flukes, they are a parasitic adaptation for attachment on the internal tissues of the host, such as intestines and blood vessels.[1] In roundworms and flatworms they serve as attachment between individuals particularly during mating. In annelids, a sucker can be both a functional mouth and a locomotory organ.[2] The structure and number of suckers are often used as basic taxonomic diagnosis between different species, since they are unique in each species. In tapeworms there are two distinct classes of suckers, namely "bothridia" for true suckers, and "bothria" for false suckers. In digeneal flukes there are usually an oral sucker at the mouth and a ventral sucker (or acetabulum) posterior to the mouth. Roundworms have their sucker just in front of the anus; hence it is often called a pre-anal sucker.

Scolex of Taenia solium with four suckers and two rows of hooks

Among chordates, some fishes and mammals have suckers, which are used as a holdfast to substrata. Among fishes some members of the order Perciformes have modified fins that form a sucker. Some bats, the Madagascar and the Western sucker-footed bat have unusual suckers on their limbs that are useful during roosting. Some amphibians such as the frog have adhesive pads on their toes to help with their locomotion.


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