branchial cleftsmedical dictionary

A bilateral series of slitlike openings into the pharynx through which water is drawn by aquatic animals; in the walls of the cleft's are the vascular gill filaments that take up oxygen from the water passing through the cleft's; sometimes loosely applied to the branchial ectodermal grooves of mammalian embryos, which are imperforate, rudimentary homologues of complete gill clefts.

Synonyms: gill clefts.

(05 Mar 2000)