Phylum - Chordata
These are the most commonly known of the animal kingdom. Chordates are defined as organisms that possess a notochord, at least during some part of their life. The notochord is a rod that extends most of the length of the body when it is developed. opposite the gut but running along the central nervous system, it stregthens the body and acts as support during movement.
Other features that define the phylum chordata are:
• bilateral symmetry
• body segmentation
• endoskeleton (bony or cartilaginous)
• complete digestive system
• ventral heart
• closed blood system
• pharyngeal pouches (present during some stage of development)
• tail (at some stage of development)
Most members of chordate are vertebrates, meaning they have a backbone.
Photo taken by Adrian Pingstone at a falconry display in Bristol, England, in June 2004 and released to the public domain. By Aaron Logan, from http://www.lightmatter.net/gallery/albums.php .