Forey, Peter L. Department of Paleontology, Natural History Museum, London, United Kingdom.
Last reviewed:January 2020
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The common name for members of the agnathans. The superclass Agnatha (subphylum Vertebrata, phylum Chordata) comprises the jawless vertebrates (agnathans). Members include the cyclostomes (modern lampreys and hagfishes), as well as extinct armored fishes, known colloquially as ostracoderms (“bony-skinned”), and conodonts (see illustration). Agnathans have pouchlike gills opening through small pores, rather than slits as in jawed vertebrates (Gnathostomata). Primitively, agnathans lack jaws, they show a persistent notochord, and most members have no paired fins. See also: Chordata; Gnathostomata; Vertebrata
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