"Chordate" is the term used to refer to members of phylum chordata, a phylum of animals characterized by the presence of a cartilagenous supporting rod called a notochord at some point in the animal's development. Chordates encompass vertebrates, in whom the notochord is replaced in early development by vertebrae.

The two other main chordate attributes are a post-anal tail and pharyngeal slits. The tail is only present in the embryonic stage of those animals who, like humans, do not evidence one in their mature forms. The pharyngeal slits are most commonly used for gills, but some organisms are known to use them to collect food. They are only present in the embryonic stage of most non-aquatic animals, including humans.

Chordates all have a dorsal nerve cord.

Chordates all have a closed circulatory system, generally with a heart.

In early embryonic development, chordates' anuses form before their mouths. Yes, that means you.

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