Functional morphology and biomechanics of cuticular fracture at the elytrophoral autotomy plane of the scaleworm Alentia gelatinosa (Annelida: Polynoidae)

Iain Wilkie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Autotomy of the elytra (scales) in the annelid Alentia gelatinosa occurs at a breakage plane near the junction between the elytron and its elytrophore (stalk), and requires fracture of the external epidermal cuticle. The mechanism of cuticular fracture was investigated by light and electron microscopy, glycoconjugate histochemistry, direct observation of autotomy in isolated preparations, and mechanical tests. The breakage plane crosses the elytrophoral wall at a cuticular thickening and passes through the subelytral cavity between the elytron and the terminal septum of the elytrophore.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-147
Number of pages19
JournalInvertebrate Biology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2011



  • collagen
  • brittle fracture
  • histochemistry

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