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Notochord
In anatomy, the notochord is a flexible rod which is similar in structure to the stiffer cartilage. If a species has a notochord at any stage of its life cycle (along with 4 other features), it is, by definition, a chordate. The notochord consists of inner, vacuolated cells covered by fibrous and elastic sheaths, lies along the anteroposterior axis (''front to back''), is usually closer to the dorsal than the ventral surface of the embryo, and is composed of cells derived from the mesoderm. The most commonly cited functions of the notochord are: as a midline tissue that provides directional signals to surrounding tissue during development, as a skeletal (structural) element, and as a vertebral precursor. In lancelets the notochord persists throughout life as the main structural support of the body. In tunicates the notochord is present only in the larval stage, being completely absent in the adult animal. In these invertebrate chordates, the notochord is not vacuolated. In ...
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Mesoderm
The mesoderm is the middle layer of the three germ layers that develops during gastrulation in the very early development of the embryo of most animals. The outer layer is the ectoderm, and the inner layer is the endoderm.Langman's Medical Embryology, 11th edition. 2010. The mesoderm forms mesenchyme, mesothelium, non-epithelial blood cells and coelomocytes. Mesothelium lines coeloms. Mesoderm forms the muscles in a process known as myogenesis, septa (cross-wise partitions) and mesenteries (length-wise partitions); and forms part of the gonads (the rest being the gametes). Myogenesis is specifically a function of mesenchyme. The mesoderm differentiates from the rest of the embryo through intercellular signaling, after which the mesoderm is polarized by an organizing center. The position of the organizing center is in turn determined by the regions in which beta-catenin is protected from degradation by GSK-3. Beta-catenin acts as a co-factor that alters the activity of the tr ...
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Axial Mesoderm
Axial mesoderm, or chordamesoderm, is the mesoderm in the embryo that lies along the central axis under the neural tube. * will give rise to notochord * starts as the notochordal process, whose formation finishes at day 20 in humans. * important not only in forming the notochord itself but also in inducing development of the overlying ectoderm into the neural tube * will eventually induce the formation of vertebral bodies. * ventral floor of the notochordal process fuses with endoderm. * The notochord will form the nucleus pulposus of intervertebral discs. There is some discussion as to whether these cells contributed from the notochord are replaced by others from the adjacent mesoderm. It gives rise to the notochordal process, which later becomes the notochord In anatomy, the notochord is a flexible rod which is similar in structure to the stiffer cartilage. If a species has a notochord at any stage of its life cycle (along with 4 other features), it is, by definition, a ...
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Chordate
A chordate () is an animal of the phylum Chordata (). All chordates possess, at some point during their larval or adult stages, five synapomorphies, or primary physical characteristics, that distinguish them from all the other taxa. These five synapomorphies include a notochord, dorsal hollow nerve cord, endostyle or thyroid, pharyngeal slits, and a post-anal tail. The name “chordate” comes from the first of these synapomorphies, the notochord, which plays a significant role in chordate structure and movement. Chordates are also bilaterally symmetric, have a coelom, possess a circulatory system, and exhibit metameric segmentation. In addition to the morphological characteristics used to define chordates, analysis of genome sequences has identified two conserved signature indels (CSIs) in their proteins: cyclophilin-like protein and mitochondrial inner membrane protease ATP23, which are exclusively shared by all vertebrates, tunicates and cephalochordates. These CSIs pro ...
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Neurulation
Neurulation refers to the folding process in vertebrate embryos, which includes the transformation of the neural plate into the neural tube. The embryo at this stage is termed the neurula. The process begins when the notochord induces the formation of the central nervous system (CNS) by signaling the ectoderm germ layer above it to form the thick and flat neural plate. The neural plate folds in upon itself to form the neural tube, which will later differentiate into the spinal cord and the brain, eventually forming the central nervous system. Computer simulations found that cell wedging and differential proliferation are sufficient for mammalian neurulation. Different portions of the neural tube form by two different processes, called primary and secondary neurulation, in different species. * In primary neurulation, the neural plate creases inward until the edges come in contact and fuse. * In secondary neurulation, the tube forms by hollowing out of the interior of a solid precu ...
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Vertebrate
Vertebrates () comprise all animal taxon, taxa within the subphylum Vertebrata () (chordates with vertebral column, backbones), including all mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish. Vertebrates represent the overwhelming majority of the phylum Chordata, with currently about 69,963 species described. Vertebrates comprise such groups as the following: * Agnatha, jawless fish, which include hagfish and lampreys * Gnathostomata, jawed vertebrates, which include: ** Chondrichthyes, cartilaginous fish (sharks, Batoidea, rays, and Chimaeriformes, ratfish) ** Euteleostomi, bony vertebrates, which include: *** Actinopterygii, ray-fins (the majority of living Osteichthyes, bony fish) *** lobe-fins, which include: **** coelacanths and lungfish **** tetrapods (limbed vertebrates) Extant taxon, Extant vertebrates range in size from the frog species ''Paedophryne amauensis'', at as little as , to the blue whale, at up to . Vertebrates make up less than five percent of all described a ...
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Primitive Node
The primitive node (or primitive knot) is the organizer for gastrulation in most amniote embryos. In birds it is known as Hensen's node, and in amphibians it is known as the Spemann-Mangold organizer. It is induced by the Nieuwkoop center in amphibians, or by the posterior marginal zone in amniotes including birds. Diversity * In birds the organizer is known as Hensen's node, named after its discoverer Victor Hensen. * In other amniotes it is known as the primitive node. * In amphibians, it is known as the Spemann-Mangold organizer, named after Hans Spemann and Hilde Mangold, who first identified the organizer in 1924.) * In fish it is known as the embryonic shield. All structures are as yet considered as homologous. This view is substantiated by the common expression of several genes, including goosecoid, Cnot, noggin, nodal, and the sharing of strong axis-inducing properties upon transplantation. Cell fate studies have revealed that also the overall temporal sequence ...
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Vertebral Column
The vertebral column, also known as the backbone or spine, is part of the axial skeleton. The vertebral column is the defining characteristic of a vertebrate in which the notochord (a flexible rod of uniform composition) found in all chordates has been replaced by a segmented series of bone: vertebrae separated by intervertebral discs. Individual vertebrae are named according to their region and position, and can be used as anatomical landmarks in order to guide procedures such as lumbar punctures. The vertebral column houses the spinal canal, a cavity that encloses and protects the spinal cord. There are about 50,000 species of animals that have a vertebral column. The human vertebral column is one of the most-studied examples. Many different diseases in humans can affect the spine, with spina bifida and scoliosis being recognisable examples. The general structure of human vertebrae is fairly typical of that found in mammals, reptiles, and birds. The shape of the vertebral ...
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Neural Plate
The neural plate is a key developmental structure that serves as the basis for the nervous system. Cranial to the primitive node of the embryonic primitive streak, ectodermal tissue thickens and flattens to become the neural plate. The region anterior to the primitive node can be generally referred to as the neural plate. Cells take on a columnar appearance in the process as they continue to lengthen and narrow. The ends of the neural plate, known as the neural folds, push the ends of the plate up and together, folding into the neural tube, a structure critical to brain and spinal cord development. This process as a whole is termed primary neurulation. Signaling proteins are also important in neural plate development, and aid in differentiating the tissue destined to become the neural plate. Examples of such proteins include bone morphogenetic proteins and cadherins. Expression of these proteins is essential to neural plate folding and subsequent neural tube formation. Involvem ...
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Lancelet
The lancelets ( or ), also known as amphioxi (singular: amphioxus ), consist of some 30 to 35 species of "fish-like" benthic filter feeding chordates in the order Amphioxiformes. They are the modern representatives of the subphylum Cephalochordata. Lancelets closely resemble 530-million-year-old ''Pikaia'', fossils of which are known from the Burgess Shale. Zoologists are interested in them because they provide evolutionary insight into the origins of vertebrates. Lancelets contain many organs and organ systems that are closely related to those of modern fish, but in more primitive form. Therefore, they provide a number of examples of possible evolutionary exaptation. For example, the gill-slits of lancelets are used for feeding only, and not for respiration. The circulatory system carries food throughout their body, but does not have red blood cells or hemoglobin for transporting oxygen. Lancelet genomes hold clues about the early evolution of vertebrates: by comparing genes fro ...
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Tunicate
A tunicate is a marine invertebrate animal, a member of the subphylum Tunicata (). It is part of the Chordata, a phylum which includes all animals with dorsal nerve cords and notochords (including vertebrates). The subphylum was at one time called Urochordata, and the term urochordates is still sometimes used for these animals. They are the only chordates that have lost their myomeric segmentation, with the possible exception of the 'seriation of the gill slits'. Some tunicates live as solitary individuals, but others replicate by budding and become colonies, each unit being known as a zooid. They are marine filter feeders with a water-filled, sac-like body structure and two tubular openings, known as siphons, through which they draw in and expel water. During their respiration and feeding, they take in water through the incurrent (or inhalant) siphon and expel the filtered water through the excurrent (or exhalant) siphon. Most adult tunicates are sessile, immobile and perman ...
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Intervertebral Disc
An intervertebral disc (or intervertebral fibrocartilage) lies between adjacent vertebrae in the vertebral column. Each disc forms a fibrocartilaginous joint (a symphysis), to allow slight movement of the vertebrae, to act as a ligament to hold the vertebrae together, and to function as a shock absorber for the spine. Structure Intervertebral discs consist of an outer fibrous ring, the anulus fibrosus disci intervertebralis, which surrounds an inner gel-like center, the nucleus pulposus. The ''anulus fibrosus'' consists of several layers (laminae) of fibrocartilage made up of both type I collagen, type I and type II collagen. Type I is concentrated toward the edge of the ring, where it provides greater strength. The stiff laminae can withstand compressive forces. The fibrous intervertebral disc contains the ''nucleus pulposus'' and this helps to distribute pressure evenly across the disc. This prevents the development of stress concentrations which could cause damage to the under ...
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Nucleus Pulposus
An intervertebral disc (or intervertebral fibrocartilage) lies between adjacent vertebrae in the vertebral column. Each disc forms a fibrocartilaginous joint (a symphysis), to allow slight movement of the vertebrae, to act as a ligament to hold the vertebrae together, and to function as a shock absorber for the spine. Structure Intervertebral discs consist of an outer fibrous ring, the anulus fibrosus disci intervertebralis, which surrounds an inner gel-like center, the nucleus pulposus. The ''anulus fibrosus'' consists of several layers (laminae) of fibrocartilage made up of both type I and type II collagen. Type I is concentrated toward the edge of the ring, where it provides greater strength. The stiff laminae can withstand compressive forces. The fibrous intervertebral disc contains the ''nucleus pulposus'' and this helps to distribute pressure evenly across the disc. This prevents the development of stress concentrations which could cause damage to the underlying vertebra ...
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