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Maxillae is the plural of maxilla, and refers to mouth parts in crustaceans that are located on the head of the animal, behind the mandibles. Crustaceans have two pairs of maxillae - these help manipulate and chew prey. Crustaceans also have maxillipeds, 3 pairs of appendages. When feeding, a crustacean can pass prey from its claws to its maxillipeds, then to the maxillae, and finally the mandibles.

The term maxillae is also used in vertebrates to refer to the pair of bones that form the one of a pair of large bones (often referred to as one bone) that form the upper jaw.

In birds, maxilla refers to the upper part of the bird's bill.


  • Learn About Crabs & Relatives. A Snail's OdysseyAccessed October 31, 2012.
  • Martinez, A. J. 2003. Marine Life of the North Atlantic. AquaQuest Publications, Inc.:New York.
  • Meinkoth, N.A. 1981. National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Seashore Creatures. Alfred A. Knopf: New York.
  • University of California Museum of Paleontology. Crustaceamorpha: Appendages. Accessed October 31, 2012.
  • Waller, G., ed. 1996. SeaLife: A Complete Guide to the Marine Environment. Smithsonian Institution Press: Washington, D.C.
Pronunciation: max-ill-ay
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