What is the Phylum Chordata?
A chordate is an animal of the phylum Chordata.
All chordates possess five synapomorphies, or primary characteristics, at some point during their larval or adulthood stages that distinguish them from all other taxa. These five synapomorphies include
- dorsal hollow nerve cord
- endostyle or thyroid
- pharyngeal slits
- a post-anal tail
The name “chordate” comes from the first of these synapomorphies, the notochord, which plays a significant role in chordate structure and movement.
Chordates are also bilaterally symmetric, have a coelom, possess a circulatory system, and exhibit metameric segmentation.