Chordates and Vertebrates

What is the main difference between chordates and vertebrates?

What is a chordate? Technically speaking, a chordate is an animal that has a notochord, dorsal nerve cord, an endostyle, a tail, and pharyngeal slits. A notochord is a cartilage-like rod that goes from head-to-tail on all chordates. Without one the creature is not a chordate. It has many functions, including muscle connection.

The dorsal nerve cord is a hollow tube formed by the ectoderm and is modified in vertebrates to make the central nervous system (spine, brain).

The endostyle is a groove for gathering food and transporting it to the esophagus (your gullet). In vertebrates this transforms into the thyroid.

The pharyngeal slits are more commonly known as gills in aquatic creatures. Lastly, the tail is….well, we all know what a tail is.

Chordate has what is called a subphyla (sub-category) called vertebrate. Vertebrates are all creatures with a spine/backbone. There are two other sub-categories within chordates—those that don’t have spines. Vertebrates include mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish. So, the main difference between chordates and vertebrates is that the latter have backbones while chordates do not. They are spineless. 😉

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