Animal World

Animal Characteristics and Activities

What are the major characteristics of all chordates?

All chordates share a notochord, dorsal nerve cord, and pharyngeal gill pouches. The notochord, a cartilaginous supporting rod, runs along the dorsal part of the body. It is always found in embryos, but in most vertebrates it is replaced during development by a backbone of bony or cartilaginous vertebrae. The tubular dorsal nerve cord, dorsal to the notochord, is formed during development by an infolding of the ectoderm. In vertebrates the nerve cord eventually becomes encased and thus protected by the backbone. The pharyngeal gill pouches appear during embryonic development on both sides of the throat region, the pharynx.


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