carapace (kârˈəpās) [key], shield, or shell covering, found over all or part of the anterior dorsal portion of an animal. In lobsters, shrimps, crayfish, and crabs, the carapace is the part of the exoskeleton that covers the head and thorax and protects the dorsal and lateral surfaces. In many crustaceans, the term carapace is also used to describe the hard, protective covering of the cephalothorax, as that of the horseshoe crab. The carapace of a turtle's shell is composed of expanded ribs and vertebrae overlain by dermal plates and horny scales.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.