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Exuviae is a term used in biology to describe the remains of an exoskeleton and related structures that are left after ecdysozoans[verification needed] (including insect, crustacean or arachnid) have moulted. The exuviae of an animal can be important to biologists as it can often be used to identify the species of the animal and even its sex.

As it is not always practical to study insects, crustaceans or arachnids directly and because exuviae can be collected fairly easily, it can play an important part in helping to determine some general aspects of a species overall life cycle such as distribution, sex ratio, production and proof of breeding in a habitat.

The Latin word "exuviae", meaning "that which is stripped from a body", is found only in the plural.[1] "Exuvia" is a derived singular usage that is becoming more common; "exuvium" is an incorrect singular formation.[2][3]

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  1. ^ "Exuviae". Lewis and Short Latin Lexicon. The Archimedes Project. Retrieved 21 Sep 2014. 
  2. ^ José Rollin de la Torre-Bueno, Stephen W. Nichols, George S. Tulloch, Randall T. Schuh, ed. (1989). The Torre-Bueno Glossary of Entomology, rev. ed. New York: New York Entomological Society. p. 840. ISBN 0-913424-13-7. 
  3. ^ David Grimaldi & Michael S. Engel (2005). Evolution of the Insects. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-82149-5.