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Phylum Chordata

By: Kieran Gray
Phylum Chordata has four subphyla that are organized into the Lower Chrodates. They
are Hemichordata, Urochordata, Cephalochordata and Vertebrata. Hemichordata’s lack true
notochord and are marine. Their example animal is an acorn worm. Urochordata adults are filter
feeders and their larvae have all 4 characteristics of a chordate; 1. Having a Notochord, a dorsal
rod of cartilage used for support along body axis. 2: A Dorsal Hollow Nerve Cord. 3: Pharyngeal
gill slits. 4: Muscular, post anal tail. An example animal would be the tunicates. Cephalochordata
are known as classical chordate because they have all characteristic of a chordate as an adult.
Their example animal would be amphioxus.

The Fishys
We are now getting into the subphylum Vertebrata, which can also be called the Higher
Life. They have an endoskeleton of bone or cartilage, the notochord is reduced as an adult, they
have pronounced cephalization, and have a closed circulatory system. The first three classes of
Vertebrata are known as the fishes. The fist class is Agnatha- the Jawless fish. They are
Dominant in early oceans, they have no appendages, they have gills for improved oxygen intake
and they have a 2 chambered heart. An example animal would be a Lamprey or a Hag fish. The
next class of fishes would be Chondrichthyes. They have a skeleton made out of cartilage; they
have a 2 chambered heart, they evolved their jaws through modification of anterior pairs of gill
slits and they have internal fertilization. Example animals would be sharks, skates or rays. The
last class of the fishies would be Osterichthyes. Osterichythys have an operculum to protect their
gills, they have an air bladder to regulate their buoyancy, they have a nervous system, well
developed senses, and specialization through the ability to see, and they begins to have behaviors
too. Their reproduction has little to no post-natal care they have external fertilization. In regards
to their excretory system, they have a dorsal kidney. The example animals would be telecosts and
lung fish.

The Amphibians
We will now talk about the Amphibians. They are the first land dwelling deuterostomes.
Their reproduction happens outside of their body with external fertilization. Their larvae live in
the water with fins and gills. Their Respiration happens half by the lungs and half by absorbing
oxygen through skin in adults. The gills are used exclusively in larvae. Their circulatory system
has a 3 chambered heart which is very inefficient. Their fat bodies help them float and store
energy. Their skeleton had appendages that come out the side of the organism. That is the reason
why some amphibians, like salamanders, are called belly draggers. In relation to their nervous
system, they have a brain that has increased in size and their senses have improved fairly well.

The Reptiles
The Reptiles Evolved from the amphibians and soon displaced them because they were much
better adapted to land. They have an amniotic egg that is shelled. Their fertilization happens
internally. Their skin is made of scales or possibly plates. If they have legs they probably will
have 2 pairs of claws on their ventral surface, which would be an advancement over the
Amphibias who have them shot out of their sides. Their lungs are well developed as there is no
longer any need for wet skin. We also now see partial diversion of the ventricle, which has 3.5
chambers. This three chambered heart is an improvement, but there is still some mixing of bad
and good blood. Reptiles are exothermic. The amniotic egg that reptiles have allows the egg to
be laid on land and to be independent, they also have internal fertilization. Reptiles have better
developed senses, better developed movement, and better thinking because of a larger brain.
Their new behaviors include being territorial and having mating selection. The examples of
reptile could be Phynchoephalia/tuatara, Chelonia/ sea turtle, Crocodilia/Alligators and
Squamata/ snakes and lizards

The Birds
The aves or birds have a lot of fossil evidence that indicates the evolution of birds came from
reptiles; particularly from the dinosaur group that gave rise to the raptors. The Earliest known
bird was to be alive 140 million years ago. The bird is called Archaeopteryx and their reptilian
characteristics are bony teeth, tail, and claws. It bird characteristics are feathers and bones that
are light weight. The aves have 3 regions on their body them being the head, trunk, and tail.
Their bones are light weight, they have air sacs, no teeth, wings and two legs. They are
endothermic and they have a 4 chambered heart. They also have an amniotic egg that has a shell
that is hard. Because of their wings, they can fly which allows them to evade predators and find
new food sources. They also have territorial and mating selection behaviours

The Mammals
Mammalia also evolved from the reptiles in late Mesozoic. They existed as small rodent-like
animals that burrowed in the ground. They were able to survive the end of the Mesozoic and
were pre-adapted to the new cool dry reality. Mammalia completed the vertebrate evolution to
land. Mammals have a 4 chambered heart. They have hair or fur instead of scales or plates. In the
respiratory system, mammals have a diaphragm now to assist in breathing. Our amniotic egg in
found inside the female’s body as it developed. Females also have mammary glands for feeding
babies. In mammals, we have extensive post-natal care all the way up to 18 years. We have high
levels of reasoning with many different behaviors through emotion. We have an increased
cerebrum with highly developed senses. We also have well-developed limbs. In mammalian there

are three Sub-Classes; Prototheria, Metatheria and Eutheria.