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Medicine LibreTexts

4.03: Vertebrate Bodies

We are so familiar with animals with backbones (i.e. vertebrates) that it seems rather unnecessary to point out that the body is divided into three sections. There is a well-defined head that contains the brain, the major sense organs and the mouth, a trunkthat contains the other organs and a well-developed tail. Other features of vertebrates may be less apparent. For instance, vertebrates that live on the land have developed a flexible neck that is absent in fish where it would be in the way of the gills and interfere with streamlining. Mammals but not other vertebrates have a sheet of muscle called the diaphragm that divides the trunk into the chest region or thorax and the abdomen.

Contributors

  • Ruth Lawson (Otago Polytechnic; Dunedin, New Zealand)