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Aquatic Origins - Vertebrates Slideshow

Vertebrate life began in the oceans

The vertebrate story begins in the oceans over 500 million years ago. Although the period was called the Cambrian explosion, there was no "Poof!" and the vertebrates appeared. They were originally very simple creatures that eventually developed into fish.

Even the fish you know today weren't around. The first fish and aquatic vertebrates have been extinct for millions of years. All of the vertebrates of today are ancestors of those humble beginnings.

What made vertebrates different from other animal groups? The vertebrae (backbones) are the easy answer. Vertebrates also have complex nervous systems, skulls to protect the brain, paired muscles, and endoskeletons. There are very advanced animals in the invertebrate groups, but there was something special about the vertebrate subphylum.

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