Biology » Vertebrates » Chordates

Summarizing Chordates


The characteristic features of Chordata are a notochord, a dorsal hollow nerve cord, pharyngeal slits, and a post-anal tail. Chordata contains two clades of invertebrates: Urochordata (tunicates) and Cephalochordata (lancelets), together with the vertebrates in Vertebrata. Most tunicates live on the ocean floor and are suspension feeders. Lancelets are suspension feeders that feed on phytoplankton and other microorganisms. Vertebrata is named for the vertebral column, which is a feature of almost all members of this clade.



chordate clade whose members possess a notochord, dorsal hollow nerve cord, pharyngeal slits, and a post-anal tail in the adult stage


phylum of animals distinguished by their possession of a notochord, a dorsal hollow nerve cord, pharyngeal slits, and a post-anal tail at some point during their development


clade composed of chordates that possess a cranium; includes Vertebrata together with hagfishes


bony, cartilaginous, or fibrous structure surrounding the brain, jaw, and facial bones

dorsal hollow nerve cord

hollow, tubular structure derived from ectoderm, which is located dorsal to the notochord in chordates


member of Cephalochordata; named for its blade-like shape


flexible, rod-shaped support structure that is found in the embryonic stage of all chordates and in the adult stage of some chordates

pharyngeal slit

opening in the pharynx

post-anal tail

muscular, posterior elongation of the body extending beyond the anus in chordates


phylogenetic reference to an organism with a four-footed evolutionary history; includes amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals


sessile chordate that is a member of Urochordata


clade composed of tunicates

vertebral column

series of separate bones joined together as a backbone


members of the phylum Chordata that possess a backbone

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