A traditional assumption is that schistosome cercariae lose their tails at the onset of penetration. It has, however, recently been demonstrated that, for Schistosoma mansoni, cercarial tails were not invariably being shed as penetration took place and a high proportion of tails entered human skin under experimental conditions. This phenomenon was termed delayed tail loss (DTL). In this paper, we report that DTL also happens with S. japonicum cercariae during penetration of mouse skin. It occurred at all cercarial densities tested, from as few as 10 cercariae/2·25 cm2 of mouse skin up to 200 cercariae. Furthermore, it was demonstrated that there was a density-dependent increase in DTL as cercarial densities increased. No such density-dependent enhancement was shown for percentage attachment over the same cercarial density range.
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