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Vertebrates - Slideshow

Resting Lions

While there aren't that many species of vertebrates, we know you can name dozens of them. There are about 57,000 known species and the subphylum includes fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. There may be a greater number of invertebrate species across the planet, but the vertebrates are the most intelligent and advanced.

What do all of the vertebrate species have in common? They all have a skull and backbone with small bones called vertebrae. While you might not think much of some of your classmates, vertebrates are the most intelligent creatures on Earth. The skull and backbone are designed to protect our advanced nervous systems. The bones could be made of cartilage or calcified bone. Many fish have cartilage for their skeletons while mammals and reptiles have harder bones. Birds have similar bone composition to mammals, but they are hollow and lighter. The lighter bones help them fly.

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