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General Characteristics of Vertebrates
Vertebrates are members of the Phylum Chordata, which are bilaterally symmetrical.
Vertebrates have two sets of appendages. (These can be seen as wings, fins, legs and arms)
Vertebrates have a tail that extends posterior to the anus, though in most cases it decreases in size or disappears in embryonic development.
Vertebrates form grooves in their heads during embryonic development. In exception to tetrapods, these form into slits which the animal uses to filter gas or water without using the digestive tract. In tetrapods, these grooves form into important parts of the head and neck, like the ears.
Vertebrates have an enclosed skeleton made of bone, cartilage, or both. They also have a backbone of some sort and a skull to enclose their brain.
Vertebrates have a closed circulatory system, as well as a heart with multiple chambers.
Vertebrates form a dorsal nerve cord.
Vertebrates include many fish, sharks, rays, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals.
Vertebrates are heterotrophs, meaning they cannot make food on their own and rely on other organisms for nourishment.
Vertebrates are multicellular organisms. They contain eukaryotic cells that do not have cell walls.
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