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(Science: zoology) One of the grand divisions of the animal kingdom, comprising all animals that have a backbone composed of bony or cartilaginous vertebrae, together with amphioxus in which the backbone is represented by a simple undivided notochord. The Vertebrata always have a dorsal, or neural, cavity above the notochord or backbone, and a ventral, or visceral, cavity below it. The subdivisions or classes of Vertebrata are mammalia, aves, reptilia, amphibia, pisces, marsipobranchia, and leptocardia.