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Temporal range: Latest Ediacaran - Recent
A X-ray tetra is one of the few chordates with a visible backbone
Scientific classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Subkingdom: Eumetazoa
Superphylum: Deuterostomia
(unranked): Bilateria
Phylum: Chordata
Bateson, 1885
Typical Classes

See below

Chordata is a phylum (group) of animals which have a notochord. The group includes vertebrates, with some closely related invertebrates.





 Appendicularia (formerly Larvacea)
























Note: Lines show likely evolutionary relationships. Extinct groups are marked with a "†". Extinct animals are ones that are not around anymore, but around in the past.

Origin of chordates

A long-standing theory is that in transformed larvae of sea-squirts (tunicates) lies the origin of chordates. Tunicates are sessile, but their larvae are mobile, and have some features found in early vertebrates. The process of paedomorphosis, where juvenile features are retained in the adult, is the proposed mechanism.[1][2][3] Genome analysis does show that the tunicates are the closest living relatives of vertebrates.[4]


  1. Garstang, Walter 1894. Preliminary notes on a new theory of the phylogeny of the chordates. Zoologischer Anzeiger 17, p122.
  2. Garstang, Walter 1928. The morphology of the tunicata, and its bearing on the phylogeny of the Chordata. Quarterly Journal of Microscopical Science 72, p51.
  3. de Beer, Gavin 1951. Embryos and ancestors. 3rd ed, Oxfor, The evolution of chordates, p76.
  4. Delsuc, Frédéric et al. 2006. Tunicates and not cephalochordates are the closest living relatives of vertebrates. Nature 439, 965-968

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