What Are Vertebrates

One of the things that birds, snakes, fish, frogs, cows, and all have in common is a backbone or vertebral column. It is made up of many small pieces of bone called “vertebrae”. These forms of life are therefore called “vertebrates”. Creatures that do not have a  backbone, such as crabs, snails, grasshoppers, and sponges, are called “invertebrates”.


True vertebrates also have a bony, boxlike structure at one end of their backbone which contains the brain. Their nerves run together into large bundles which are carried in a cavity in the backbone to the brain. The nerves make contact with every part of the body in Vertebrates also have fine, hair-like blood vessels that carry food to every cell in the body. And they combine to form large arteries and veins which run the length of the body to the heart.

Another thing that distinguishes vertebrates from boneless animals is their muscular system. Their digestive system is well developed. To the vertebrae of their backbones are attached the ribs and also the bones which carry the limbs.

Vertebrates never have more than four limbs. In fish, the two pairs of paired fins correspond to the limbs. In some vertebrates, such as the snakes, these limbs are entirely lacking. In others, such as birds, one pair of limbs has developed into wings. In man, one pair is arms, the other, legs.

Typical vertebrates have tails. But just as other vertebrates have lost their limbs during development, so man has lost his tail.

What Are 5 Examples Of Vertebrates?

The phylum chordata (animals with backbones) is divided into five common classes: fish, amphibians, reptiles, mammals and birds.

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