A cartilaginous skeletal rod supporting the body in all embryonic and some adult chordate animals.
- In those chordates which lack bone, muscles work against the notochord to move the animal.
- In the evolution of vertebrates, long bodies with continuously flexible notochords and segmental muscles existed before the appearance of segmental vertebrae.
- They all have, at some embryonic stage, a notochord, flanked by muscle, and a dorsal neural tube.
Mid 19th century: from Greek nōton 'back' + chord2.
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