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Bauplan of a malacostracan; the cephalothorax is the region including cephalon and thorax

The cephalothorax (called the prosoma in some groups) is an anatomical term used in arachnids and malacostracan crustaceans for the first (anterior) major body section. The remainder of the body is the abdomen (opisthosoma), which may also bear lateral appendages as well as the tail, if present. The term "prosoma" can also be applied to the head of insects, but as the two are always exactly synonymous in insects (not true for mesosoma vs. thorax or metasoma vs. abdomen), the simpler term - "head" - is used instead.

Chelicerate cephalothorax

In the chelicerates, the cephalothorax does not originate from any fusion of head and thorax, because there is no post-cephalic tagmosis (no thorax) in their immediate ancestors. A more correct usage is to say that the cephalothorax (prosoma) in the Chelicerata is formed by the fusion of the head segments and some anterior trunk segments. Recommended usage is prosoma versus opisthosoma. The dorsal sclerites of the cephalothorax are typically fused into a shield called a carapace, while the ventral ones are much reduced and usually covered by the coxae of pedipalps and legs I-IV.

Horseshoe crabs are quite unusual in that part of the first two opisthosomal segments have actually become incorporated into their prosoma, and here the term cephalothorax has been proposed as a specific name for this modified anterior part of the horshoe crab body.

Crustacean cephalothorax

The crustacean cephalothorax is derived from the fusion of the head (from Greek κεφαλή cephale) and the trunk (from Greek θώραξ thorax), and therefore includes all the mouthparts, antennae, and the thoracic appendages, such as the legs of a lobster. In the Malacostraca, the cephalothorax is typically covered by a protective carapace.

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