Introduction to Chordates

Identify the common characteristics of chordates

Vertebrates are members of the kingdom Animalia and the phylum Chordata. Recall that animals that possess bilateral symmetry can be divided into two groups—protostomes and deuterostomes—based on their patterns of embryonic development. The deuterostomes, whose name translates as “second mouth,” consist of two major phyla: Echinodermata and Chordata. Echinoderms are invertebrate marine animals that have pentaradial symmetry and a spiny body covering, a group that includes sea stars, sea urchins, and sea cucumbers. The most conspicuous and familiar members of Chordata are vertebrates, but this phylum also includes two groups of invertebrate chordates.

What You’ll Learn to Do

  • Describe the distinguishing characteristics of chordates
  • Discuss the invertebrate chordate lineages
  • Identify the derived character of craniates that sets them apart from other chordates

Learning Activities

The learning activities for this section include the following:

  • Characteristics of Chordates
  • Invertebrate Chordates
  • Craniates
  • Self Check: Chordates