The motile six-hooked first-stage larva of cyclophyllidean cestodes; it emerges from the egg and actively claws its way through the intermediate host's intestine prior to development into the next larval stage; e.g., the hexacanth of Taenia saginata, which penetrates the intestine of a cow that ingested the egg, then forms a cysticercus in the muscles of the intermediate host.

Synonyms: oncosphere.

Origin: hexa-+ G. Akantha, hook or thorn

(05 Mar 2000)