Body cavity

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By the broadest definition, a body cavity is any fluid filled space in a multicellular organism. However, the term usually refers to the space, located between an animal’s outer covering (epidermis) and the outer lining of the gut cavity, where internal organs develop. "The body cavity" of the human body cavities normally refers to the ventral body cavity, because it is by far the largest one in volume.

Contents

Grouping

The type of body cavity places an organism into one of three groups:[1]

  • Coelomates (also known as eucoelomates — "true coelom") have a fluid filled body cavity called a coelom (pronounced /ˈsiːləm/) with a complete lining called peritoneum derived from mesoderm (one of the three primary tissue layers). The complete mesoderm lining allows organs to be attached to each other so that they can be suspended in a particular order while still being able to move freely within the cavity. Most bilateral animals, including all the vertebrates, are coelomates.
  • Pseudocoelomate animals have a pseudocoel (literally “false cavity”), which is a fully functional body cavity. Tissue derived from mesoderm only partly lines the fluid filled body cavity of these animals. Thus, although organs are held in place loosely, they are not as well organized as in a coelomate. All pseudocoelomates are protostomes; however, not all protostomes are pseudocoelomates. An example of a Pseudocoelomate is the roundworm. Pseudocoelomate animals are also referred to as Hemocoel and Blastocoelomate.
  • Acoelomate animals, like flatworms, have no body cavity at all. Organs have direct contact with the epithelium. Semi-solid mesodermal tissues between the gut and body wall hold their organs in place.

Coelom

A coelom is a cavity lined by an epithelium derived from mesoderm. Organs formed inside a coelom can freely move, grow, and develop independently of the body wall while fluid cushions and protects them from shocks.

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