Principles of Animal Biology - Study Sheets
Phylum Chordata: Introduction/FishesReturn to the Study Guides Index

The following questions will help you to review the material from the lecture, the laboratory, as well as the text.

  1. Briefly describe the diversity of animals one can expect to find within the phylum Chordata. Give examples.
  2. Members of the phylum Chordata have four major characteristics in common. Describe these four features and explain how they can be used to unify the taxon.
  3. Would an adult elephant have the four above characteristics? Explain.
  4. Which three subphyla belong to the phylum Chordata? How do these subphyla differ from each other?
  5. What are tunicates? Where can you expect to find them?
  6. Briefly describe the anatomy of an adult tunicate with the help of a drawing. Describe the function of each structure that you mention in your diagram.
  7. How do tunicates feed? Reproduce (describe the basic life cycle of a tunicate)?
  8. Compare and contrast the structure of an adult tunicate and the larval form. How do they differ from each other? How are they similar?
  9. How do lancelets differ from tunicates? How are they similar? Speculate on the origin of lancelets based on your knowledge of the tunicates.
  10. Briefly describe the anatomy of a lancelet. Point out the features that makes it a chordate.
  11. Describe the diversity of the subphylum Vertebrata. What do the vertebrates have in common?
  12. Is it appropriate to divide the field of zoology into  invertebrate and vertebrate zoology (i.e. invertebrates vs. vertebrates)?
  13. Most of the vertebrates are fishes. What kind of fishes dominate in the earth's aquatic realm? Show how the different lineages of fishes are connected to each other.
  14. Briefly describe the major lineages of fishes as covered in our class.
  15. What kind of fishes are found in the superclass Agnatha? How do they differ from bony fishes?
  16. How do lampreys and hagfishes differ from each other? What do they feed on?
  17. What are the lampreys considered to be problematic? What kind of impact do lampreys have on humans?
  18. Describe the life cycle of a lamprey?
  19. Which classes of fish are found in the superclass Gnathostomata? How do these fishes differ from the superclass Agnatha?
  20. The extinct class Placodermata was covered in our class. Why do you think so? Do the placoderms have any interesting characteristics one should pay attention to? Explain.
  21. How did jaws evolve? Explain the current thinking about the origin of jaws in vertebrates. How did the evolution of jaws affect the success of the vertebrates?
  22. What is the name of the largest (in size) fish species?
  23. Characterize the sharks and the rays (class Chondrichthyes).
  24. Sharks are typically perceived as a threat to humans. This perception has escalated over the last twenty years. Discuss the circumstances that have lead to this state of affairs.
  25. What is the main characteristic of this taxon?
  26. Why was this group so successful?
  27. Describe the external anatomy of a shark (focus on the location and the names of the different fins).
  28. How are the types of fins related to how a shark moves?
  29. How does a shark differ in movement compared to a typical bony fish (Osteichthyes)?
  30. How do sharks maintain "lift" as they move through the water?
  31. How have some sharks solved the buoyancy problem?
  32. What are placoid scales? Describe them? What is their function?
  33. Describe how sharks do gas exchange? How does it differ (if at all) from a bony fish?
  34. How do sharks detect prey? Imagine an injured fish a mile away from a Great White Shark. Describe the different sensory systems a shark uses to home in on its prey as well as the sequence in which they come into play as the shark is approaching the injured fish.
  35. Describe the structure and function of the lateral line system.
  36. What is the function of the ampullae of Lorenzini?
  37. Many sharks have a nictitating membrane associated with their eyes. What is its function?
  38. What is unusual about the shark's teeth (e.g. a Great White) in terms of their structure and morphology?
  39. What is so special about Charcaradon megalodon?
  40. Describe the diversity of lifestyles found in sharks (ways of living, size, habitats).
  41. What is unusual about the whale shark and the basking shark?
  42. Can you give some other examples of unusual sharks (they do not all fall into the "typical" Great White category).
  43. Many shark species are threatened by the growing human population. Explain how humans take advantage of these animals.
  44. How do rays and skates differ from sharks in terms of anatomy, life style and feeding habits?
  45. How do skates and rays differ from each other?
  46. What do rays and skates typically feed upon? How can you tell?
  47. What is a ratfish (chimerae)?

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Updated: April 21,  2015