Vertebrates (/ˈvɜːrtɪbrəts/) comprise all species of animals within the subphylum Vertebrata (/vɜːrtɪˈbrtə/) (chordates with 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.[3] Vertebrates comprise such groups as the following:

Temporal range:
Cambrian Stage 3Present,
518–0 Ma[1]
Example of vertebrates: Acipenser oxyrinchus (Actinopterygii), an African bush elephant (Tetrapoda), a Tiger shark (Chondrichthyes) and a River lamprey (Agnatha).
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Superphylum: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Clade: Olfactores
Subphylum: Vertebrata
J-B. Lamarck, 1801[2]

Ossea Batsch, 1788[2]

Extant vertebrates range in size from the frog species Paedophryne amauensis, at as little as 7.7 mm (0.30 in), to the blue whale, at up to 33 m (108 ft). Vertebrates make up less than five percent of all described animal species; the rest are invertebrates, which lack vertebral columns.

The vertebrates traditionally include the hagfish, which do not have proper vertebrae due to their loss in evolution,[4] though their closest living relatives, the lampreys, do.[5] Hagfish do, however, possess a cranium. For this reason, the vertebrate subphylum is sometimes referred to as "Craniata" when discussing morphology. Molecular analysis since 1992 has suggested that hagfish are most closely related to lampreys,[6] and so also are vertebrates in a monophyletic sense. Others consider them a sister group of vertebrates in the common taxon of craniata.[7]

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