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The bodies of carinariids, like those of pterotracheids, are greatly enlarged by comparison with the microscopic atlantids. Also like the pterotracheids, the body in most species is elongated and cylindrical, and is divisible into three regions (proboscis, trunk and tail). A reduced shell is present, growing out of the larval shell after metamorphosis. The adult shell is either cap-shaped, covering the viscera, gonads, heart and gills (Carinaria and Pterosoma) or is microscopic, modified only slightly from the larval shell, and embedded dorsally in the visceral nucleus (Cardiapoda). A fin sucker is present in both sexes, although the size of the sucker relative to the swimming fin is very small when compared with the sucker in atlantids.
Heteropod molluscs with:
- Body elongated and basically cylindrical, divided into proboscis, trunk and tail
- Viscera compacted into a stalked visceral nucleus
- Shell cap-shaped, covering the viscera and other organs, or microscopic, embedded in the dorsal part of the visceral nucleus.