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Brief Summary

    Chordate: Brief Summary
    provided by wikipedia
    Not to be confused with Cordate.

    A chordate (/kɔːrdeɪt/) is an animal belonging to the phylum Chordata; chordates possess a notochord, a hollow dorsal nerve cord, pharyngeal slits, an endostyle, and a post-anal tail, for at least some period of their life cycle. Chordates are deuterostomes, as during the embryo development stage the anus forms before the mouth. They are also bilaterally symmetric coelomates with metameric segmentation and a circulatory system. In the case of vertebrate chordates, the notochord is usually replaced by a vertebral column during development.

    Taxonomically, the phylum includes the following subphyla: the Vertebrata, which includes fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals; the Tunicata, which includes salps and sea squirts; and the Cephalochordata, which include the lancelets. There are also additional extinct taxa such as the Vetulicolia. The Vertebrata are sometimes considered as a subgroup of the clade Craniata, consisting of chordates with a skull; the Craniata and Tunicata compose the clade Olfactores.

    Of the more than 65,000 living species of chordates, about half are bony fish of the superclass Osteichthyes. The world's largest and fastest animals, the blue whale and peregrine falcon respectively, are chordates, as are humans. Fossil chordates are known from at least as early as the Cambrian explosion.

    Hemichordata, which includes the acorn worms, has been presented as a fourth chordate subphylum, but it now is usually treated as a separate phylum. The Hemichordata, along with the Echinodermata (which includes starfish, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, and crinoids), form the Ambulacraria, the sister taxon of the Chordates. The Chordata and Ambulacraria form the superphylum Deuterostomia, composed of the deuterostomes.

    Overview
    provided by EOL authors
    Chordates form a very diverse phylum with species living all over the planet (1). The extant animals in the phylum include the vertebrates—a familiar group that includes fish, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and birds—plus less well-known creatures including hagfish (which, together, with vertebrates make up the group Craniata), lancelets, and tunicates(1). A crucial defining feature of chordates is a long, cartilage-like(2) structure called the notochord (1,2), which runs along the central axis of the embryo of all chordates (2) and is important in embryonic development (1,2). While in the more modern chordates, the notochord turns into bone before birth(2), in some ancient vertebrates, such as lampreys and sturgeons, the notochord remains in the body for all of the animals’ lives(2); in the even older chordates such as tunicates and lancelets, which do not have backbones, the notochord remains for part or all of the animals’ lives as well, providing the structural support needed for them to swim(1,2). These creatures, particularly lancelets, are probably related to the oldest chordate fossils ever found, which date back to the Early Cambrian period, some 525 million years ago(1).

Comprehensive Description

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