any parasitic worm of the phylum or class Acanthocephala, having a proboscis covered with recurved hooks.
belonging or pertaining to the Acanthocephala.

1905–10; < Neo-Latin Acanthocephal(a), neuter plural of acanthocephalus (see acantho-, -cephalous) + -an Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
acanthocephalan (əˌkænθəʊˈsɛfələn)
1.  any of the parasitic wormlike invertebrates of the phylum Acanthocephala, the adults of which have a spiny proboscis and live in the intestines of vertebrates
2.  of, relating to, or belonging to the Acanthocephala

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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
acanthocephalan   (ə-kān'thə-sěf'ə-lən)  Pronunciation Key 
Any of various, mostly small worms of the phylum Acanthocephala that live parasitically in arthropods as juveniles and in the intestines of vertebrates (especially fish) as adults. Acanthocephalans have a cylindrical, retractile proboscis that has rows of hooked spines and is used for attachment to a host. Also called spiny-headed worm.
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Encyclopedia Britannica


any animal of the invertebrate phylum Acanthocephala. A proboscis, or snout, which bears hooks, gives the group its name. There are about 600 recorded species, all of which are parasites in vertebrates (usually fish) as adults and in arthropods as juveniles. The adults are usually less than 1 cm (0.4 inch) in length, but some reach 50 cm (about 20 inches) or more. Spiny-headed worms are found throughout the world

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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