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Chordate and Vertebrate Body Plans

  1. Richard Jefferies

Published Online: 19 APR 2001

DOI: 10.1038/npg.els.0001818



How to Cite

Jefferies, R. 2001. Chordate and Vertebrate Body Plans. eLS. .

Author Information

  1. Natural History Museum, London, UK

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 19 APR 2001


The phylum Chordata is divided into: (1) Craniata (including the Vertebrata), (2) Urochordata or tunicates, and (3) Cephalochordata or lancelets, the best known of which is amphioxus (Branchiostoma). Each of these three subphyla differs greatly from the other two in the body plan (the broad layout of an animal and its division into major anatomical regions such as head, trunk or tail) of its extant members. The longitudinal extent of the notochord is crucial in this respect.


  • Chordata;
  • calcichord;
  • Cephalochordata;
  • Urochordata;
  • Hemichordata;
  • Echinodermata;
  • solutes;
  • cornutes;
  • mitrates;
  • convergent extension;
  • tail–head overlap;
  • organ pairing