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Phylum – Chordata In Animal Kingdom

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phylum chordata in animal kingdom 184 1

Phylum – Chordata

 Animals belonging to phylum Chordata are fundamentally characterised by the presence of a notochord, a dorsal hollow nerve cord and paired pharyngeal gill slits . These are bilaterally symmetrical, triploblastic, coelomate with organ-system level of organisation. They possess a post anal tail and a closed circulatory system.Phylum Chordata is divided into three subphyla: Urochordata or Tunicata, Cephalochordata and Vertebrata. Subphyla Urochordata and Cephalochordata are often referred to as protochordates  and are exclusively marine. In Urochordata, notochord is present only in larval tail, while in Cephalochordata, it extends from head to tail region and is persistent throughout their life. Examples: Urochordata – Ascidia, Salpa, Doliolum; Cephalochordata – Branchiostoma (Amphioxus or Lancelet). The members of subphylum Vertebrata possess notochord during the embryonic period. The notochord is replaced by a cartilaginous or bony vertebral column in the adult. Thus all vertebrates are chordates but all chordates are not vertebrates. Besides the basic chordate characters, vertebrates have a ventral muscular heart with two, three or four chambers, kidneys for excretion and osmoregulation and paired appendages which may be fins or limbs.

Class – Cyclostomata

 All living members of the class Cyclostomata are ectoparasites on some fishes. They have an elongated body bearing 6-15 pairs of gill slits for respiration. Cyclostomes have a sucking and circular mouth without jaws . Their body is devoid of scales and paired fins. Cranium and vertebral column are cartilaginous. Circulation is of closed type. Cyclostomes are marine but migrate for spawning to fresh water. After spawning, within a few days, they die. Their larvae, after metamorphosis, return to the ocean. Examples: Petromyzon (Lamprey) and Myxine (Hagfish). 

Class – Chondrichthyes

 They are marine animals with streamlined body and have cartilaginous endoskeleton. Mouth is located ventrally. Notochord is persistent throughout life. Gill slits are separate and without operculum (gill cover). The skin is tough, containing minute placoid scales. Teeth are modified placoid scales which are backwardly directed. Their jaws are very powerful. These animals are predaceous. Due to the absence of air bladder, they have to swim constantly to avoid sinking.Heart is two-chambered (one auricle and one ventricle). Some of them have electric organs (e.g., Torpedo) and some possess poison sting (e.g., Trygon). They are cold-blooded (poikilothermous) animals, i.e., they lack the capacity to regulate their body temperature. Sexes are separate. In males pelvic fins bear claspers. They have internal fertilisation and many of them are viviparous. Examples: Scoliodon (Dog fish), Pristis (Saw fish) Class – Osteichthyes It includes both marine and fresh water fishes with bony endoskeleton. Their body is streamlined. Mouth is mostly terminal . They have four pairs of gills which are covered by an operculum on each side. Skin is covered with cycloid/ctenoid scales. Air bladder is present which regulates buoyancy. Heart is twochambered (one auricle and one ventricle). They are cold-blooded animals. Sexes are separate. Fertilisation is usually external. They are mostly oviparous and development is direct. Examples: Marine – Exocoetus (Flying fish), Hippocampus (Sea horse); Freshwater – Labeo (Rohu), Catla (Katla), Clarias (Magur); Aquarium – Betta (Fighting fish), Pterophyllum (Angel fish).

 Class – Amphibia

 As the name indicates (Gr., Amphi : dual, bios, life), amphibians can live in aquatic as well as terrestrial habitats. Most of them have two pairs of limbs. Body is divisible into head and trunk. Tail may be present in some. The amphibian skin is moist (without scales). The eyes have eyelids. A tympanum represents the ear. Alimentary canal, urinary and reproductive tracts open into a common chamber called cloaca which opens to the exterior. Respiration is by gills, lungs and through skin. The heart is threechambered (two auricles and one ventricle). These are cold-blooded animals. Sexes are separate. Fertilisation is external. They are oviparous and development is indirect. Examples: Bufo (Toad), Rana (Frog), Hyla (Tree frog), Salamandra (Salamander), Ichthyophis (Limbless amphibia). Class – Reptilia The class name refers to their creeping or crawling mode of locomotion (Latin, repere or reptum, to creep or crawl). They are mostly terrestrial animals and their body is covered by dry and cornified skin, epidermal scales or scutes . They do not have external ear openings. Tympanum represents ear. Limbs, when present, are two pairs. Heart is usually three-chambered, but four-chambered in crocodiles. Reptiles are poikilotherms. Snakes and lizards shed their scales as skin cast. Sexes are separate. Fertilisation is internal. They are oviparous and development is direct. Examples: Chelone (Turtle), Testudo (Tortoise), Chameleon (Tree lizard), Calotes (Garden lizard), Crocodilus (Crocodile), Alligator (Alligator). Hemidactylus (Wall lizard), Poisonous snakes – Naja (Cobra), Bangarus (Krait), Vipera (Viper). 

Class – Aves 

The characteristic features of Aves (birds) are the presence of feathers and most of them can fly except flightless birds (e.g., Ostrich). They possess beak . The forelimbs are modified into wings. The hind limbs generally have scales and are modified for walking, swimming or clasping the tree branches. Skin is dry without glands except the oil gland at the base of the tail. Endoskeleton is fully ossified (bony) and the long bones are hollow with air cavities (pneumatic). The digestive tract of birds has additional chambers, the crop and gizzard. Heart is completely fourchambered. They are warm-blooded (homoiothermous) animals, i.e., they are able to maintain a constant body temperature. Respiration is by lungs. Air sacs connected to lungs supplement respiration. Sexes are separate. Fertilisation is internal. They are oviparous and development is direct. Examples : Corvus (Crow), Columba (Pigeon), Psittacula (Parrot), Struthio (Ostrich), Pavo (Peacock), Aptenodytes (Penguin), Neophron (Vulture). 

Class – Mammalia 

They are found in a variety of habitats – polar ice caps, deserts, mountains, forests, grasslands and dark caves. Some of them have adapted to fly or live in water. The most unique mammalian characteristic is the presence of milk producing glands (mammary glands) by which the young ones are nourished. They have two pairs of limbs, adapted for walking, running, climbing, burrowing, swimming or flying . The skin of mammals is unique in possessing hair. External ears or pinnae are present. Different types of teeth are present in the jaw. Heart is fourchambered. They are homoiothermous. Respiration is by lungs. Sexes are separate and fertilisation is internal. They are viviparous with few exceptions and development is direct. Examples: Oviparous-Ornithorhynchus (Platypus); Viviparous – Macropus (Kangaroo), Pteropus (Flying fox), Camelus (Camel), Macaca (Monkey), Rattus (Rat), Canis (Dog), Felis (Cat), Elephas (Elephant), Equus (Horse), Delphinus (Common dolphin), Balaenoptera (Blue whale), Panthera tigris (Tiger), Panthera leo (Lion).

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