Vertebrates, which include fishes, reptiles, amphibians, birds, and mammals, all share a vertebral column, or a chain of bony elements (vertebrae) that run along the dorsal surface from head to tail and form the main skeletal axis of the body. The vertebral column surrounds and more or less replaces the notochord as the chief "stiffener" of the body in locomotion. Some characteristics shared by most or all vertebrates (in addition to those traits shared among all chordates) include the following (after Hickman, 1994):
Phil Myers (author), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
To cite this page: Myers, P. 2001. "Vertebrata" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 23, 2014 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/Vertebrata/
Disclaimer: The Animal Diversity Web is an educational resource written largely by and for college students. ADW doesn't cover all species in the world, nor does it include all the latest scientific information about organisms we describe. Though we edit our accounts for accuracy, we cannot guarantee all information in those accounts. While ADW staff and contributors provide references to books and websites that we believe are reputable, we cannot necessarily endorse the contents of references beyond our control.