<zoology> One of the grand divisions of the animal kingdom, comprising all animals that have a backbone composed of bony or cartilaginous vertebrae, together with Amphioxus in which the backbone is represented by a simple undivided notochord. The Vertebrata always have a dorsal, or neural, cavity above the notochord or backbone, and a ventral, or visceral, cavity below it. The subdivisions or classes of Vertebrata are Mammalia, Aves, Reptilia, Amphibia, Pisces, Marsipobranchia, and Leptocardia.

(01 Mar 1998)