The Origin of Vertebrates - Part 3: How Chordates Got Their Chord (19:09)

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In Part 3: How chordates got their chord, Marc Kirschner (Harvard Medical School) discusses how the overall body plan of vertebrates, arose from the invertebrates based on knowledge of the commonalities in their developmental mechanisms. Here again, the acorn worm, offers the key comparison, being close enough to us to share some recognizable features, but far enough away to indicate the direction from whence we came.

The Origin of Vertebrates - Part 2: Telling the Back from the Front or What the Chordates Invented (27:47)

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In Part 2: Telling the back from the front or what the chordates invented, Marc Kirschner (Harvard Medical School) discusses why we look like invertebrate animals turned upside down, i.e. vertebrates have their central nervous system on their backs and invertebrates have it on their bellies.

The Origin of Vertebrates - Part 1: The Origin of the Vertebrate Nervous System: The Hemichordat

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Modern cell and developmental biology has a lot to contribute to our understanding of the deep history of animal origins, which until recently has been largely the province of paleontology. In this set of lectures, I hope to show how recent studies by a very small group of scientists on a virtually unknown phylum of marine organisms, the hemichordates, has helped explain some of the major mysteries of the origin of vertebrates. This is a tour of not only vertebrate origins but the...