Chordates – Animals with backbones

Chordata is one of the better-known phyla in the animal kingdom, as it includes humans! This diverse group of animals share the following common traits:

  • nerve chord;
  • notochord (supporting structure);
  • gill slits; and
  • tail.

These features may not always be obvious, but they do appear at some stage in the animal’s development.

The majority of chordates are vertebrates (sub phylum Vertebrata), which means they have a backbone. However, there are some groups within the phylum that do not have backbones, including the sub phyla Urochordata (or Tunicata) and Cephalochordata.