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In animal anatomy, the notochord is a flexible rod made out of a material similar to cartilage. If a species has a notochord, it is, by definition, a chordate. The notochord lies along the anteroposterior axis, is usually closer to the dorsal than the ventral surface of the animal, and is composed ofcells derived from the mesoderm. The notochord has been observed to have many functions including developmental functions. The most commonly cited functions are as a site of muscle attachment, vertebral precursor, and as a midline tissue that provides signals to the surrounding tissue during development.

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