A hectocotylus is one of the arms of the male of most kinds of cephalopods that is modified in various ways to effect the fertilization of the female's eggs. It is a specialized, extended tentacle used to store spermatophores, the male gamete. Males generally form a new hectocotylus in each new season.

The shape of the tip of the hectocotylus has been much used in octopod systematics. In many species it is considerably elaborated. However, in the males of some species, such as the Seven-arm Octopus ("Haliphron atlanticus"), the hectocotylus develops in an inconspicuous sac in front of the right eye that gives the male the appearance of having only seven arms.

The term is also used to specifically refer to the greatly modified arm of "Argonauta" and allied genera. In argonauts, the male transfers the spermatophores to the female by putting its hectocotylus into a cavity in the mantle of the female. This mantle cavity is known as the "pallial cavity". This is the only contact the male and female have with each other during copulation, and it can be at a distance. During copulation, the hectocotylus breaks off from the male. The funnel-mantle locking apparatus on the hectocotylus keeps it lodged in the pallial cavity of the female.

The name "hectocotylus" was devised by Georges Cuvier, who first found one embedded in the mantle of a female argonaut; supposing it to be a parasitic worm, Cuvier gave it a generic name. The hectocotyl arm was first described in the biological works of Aristotle, and it was widely disbelieved until its rediscovery in the nineteenth century.Fact|date=August 2008

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  • Hectocotylus — Hec to*cot y*lus, n.; pl. {Hectocotyli}. [NL., fr. Gr. ? a hundred + ? a hollow vessel.] (Zo[ o]l.) One of the arms of the male of most kinds of cephalopods, which is specially modified in various ways to effect the fertilization of the eggs. In… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Hectocotylus —   [zu griechisch hekatón »hundert« (hier im Sinne von »sehr viele«) und kotýlē »Höhlung«, »Napf«] der, , zu einem »Begattungsarm« umgewandelter Arm der Kopffüßer, welcher der Übertragung der Spermatophoren dient. Bei einigen Achtfüßern (z. B.… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Hectocotylus — Hectocotylus, zum Begattungsorgan umgewandelter Tentakel vieler Tintenfische, der in die Mantelhöhle des f eingeführt wird …   Deutsch wörterbuch der biologie

  • hectocotylus — [hek΄tō kät′ l əs] n. pl. hectocotyli [hek΄tə kät′ lī΄] [ModL < HECTO + Gr kotylē, a hollow, cavity] a specific arm of a male octopus, cuttlefish, or other cephalopod, which becomes modified at sexual maturity so that it can transfer sperm to… …   English World dictionary

  • Hectocotylus — Der Kalmar Abraliopsis morisi mit seinen beiden Hectocotyles. Ein Hectocotylus ist ein Arm bei männlichen Kopffüßern, der zum Zweck der Fortpflanzung dient und spezielle Baumerkmale aufweist. Der Tentakel wird zur Befruchtung der weiblichen Eier… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Hectocotylus — Un hectocotylus es uno de los brazos del macho de la mayoría de las clases de cefalópodos que se modifica de varias maneras para efectuar la fertilización de los huevos de la hembra. Es un tentáculo especializado, extendido usado para almacenar… …   Wikipedia Español

  • hectocotylus — См. heterocotylus …   Dictionary of invertebrate zoology

  • hectocotylus — /hek teuh kot l euhs/, n., pl. hectocotyli / kot l uy /. Zool. a modified arm of the male of certain cephalopods that is used to transfer sperm to the female. [1850 55; < NL, equiv. to hecto HECTO + cotylus < Gk kotýle cup] * * * …   Universalium

  • hectocotylus — noun A modified arm of any of several male cephalopods that functions as a reproductive organ by transfering sperm to the mantle of the female …   Wiktionary

  • hectocotylus — [ˌhɛktə(ʊ) kɒtɪləs] noun (plural hectocotyli lʌɪ, li:) Zoology a modified arm used by male octopuses and some other cephalopods to transfer sperm to the female. Origin C19: mod. L., from hecto + Gk kotulē hollow thing …   English new terms dictionary

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