Vertebrate

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Vertebrates
Temporal range:
early Cambrian to Recent
Carp
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
(unranked) Craniata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Cuvier, 1812

A vertebrate is an animal with a spinal cord surrounded by cartilage or bone. The word comes from vertebrae, the bones that make up the ]]spine]]. Animals that are not vertebrates are called invertebrates. Vertebrates include birds, fish, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals. The parts of the vertebrate skeleton are:

  1. Braincase: A braincase or cranium protects the brain.
  2. Vertebrae: A series of short, stiff vertebrae are separated by joints. This internal backbone protects the spinal cord. The joints between the vertebrae let the backbone bend.
  3. Bones: support and protect the body's soft tissues and provides points for muscle attachment.
  4. Gill arches: Gill arches in the pharynx of fish and some amphibians support the gills.

Examples of vertebrates are mammals, birds, and fish. A few tens of thousands of species have been identified. Most are fish. Sharks, and related skates and rays, are vertebrates with cartilage instead of bones.

Taxonomy and classification[change | change source]

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