A chordate is an animal of the phylum Chordata. During some period of their life cycle, chordates possess a notochord, a dorsal nerve cord, pharyngeal slits, and a post-anal tail: these four anatomical features define this phylum. Chordates are also bilaterally symmetric, and have a coelom, metameric segmentation, and circulatory system.

The Chordata and Ambulacraria together form the superphylum Deuterostomia. Chordates are divided into three subphyla: Vertebrata (fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals); Tunicata or Urochordata (sea squirts, salps); and Cephalochordata (which includes lancelets). There are also extinct taxa such as the Vetulicolia. Hemichordata (which includes the acorn worms) has been presented as a fourth chordate subphylum, but now is treated as a separate phylum: hemichordates and Echinodermata form the Ambulacraria, the sister phylum of the Chordates. Of the more than 65,000 living species of chordates, about half are bony fish that are members of the superclass Pisces, class Osteichthyes.

Chordata. Retrieved March, 03 2021, from