Pro`to*ver"te*bra (?), n.; pl. Protovertebrae . [Proto- + vertebra.] Anat.
One of the primitive masses, or segments, into which the mesoblast of the vertebrate embryo breaks up on either side of the anterior part of the notochord; a mesoblastic, or protovertebral, somite. See Illust. of Ectoderm.
⇒ The protovertebrae were long regarded as rudiments of the permanent vertebrae, but they are now known to give rise to the dorsal muscles and other structures as well as the vertebral column. See Myotome.
© Webster 1913.