1. a flexible rodlike structure that forms the supporting axis of the body in the lowest chordates and lowest vertebrates and in embryos of higher vertebrates
2. An elastic cartilagelike rod which is developed beneath the medullary groove in the vertebrate embryo, and constitutes the primitive axial skeleton around which the centra of the vertebræ and the posterior part of the base of the skull are developed; the chorda dorsalis. See Illust. of Ectoderm.