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Apart from sponges and placozoans, almost all animals have an internal gut cavity which is lined with gastrodermal cells. In less advanced invertebrates such as the sea anemone, the mouth also acts as an anus. Circular muscles around the mouth are able to relax or contract in order to open or close it. A fringe of tentacles thrusts food into the cavity and it can gape widely enough to accommodate large prey items. Food passes first into a pharynx and digestion occurs extracellularly in the gastrovascular cavity. Annelids have simple tube-like gets and the possession of an anus allows them to separate the digestion of their foodstuffs from the absorption of the nutrients. Many molluscs have a radula which is used to scrape microscopic particles off surfaces. In invertebrates with hard exoskeletons, various mouthparts may be involved in feeding behaviour. Insects have a range of mouthparts suited to their mode of feeding. These include mandibles, maxillae and labium and can be modified into suitable appendages for chewing, cutting, piercing, sponging and sucking. Decapods have six pairs of mouth appendages, one pair of mandibles, two pairs of maxillae and three of maxillipeds. Sea urchins have a set of five sharp calcareous plates which are used as jaws and are known as Aristotle's lantern.

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