One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
With plural (or occasionally singular) concord: a subphylum (or phylum) of chordates that typically have a bony or cartilaginous skeleton, a backbone enclosing a spinal cord, and a skull enclosing the brain, and including the fishes and the tetrapods (amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals). Also treated as plural (also in form vertebrata): animals of this phylum (collectively or individually); vertebrates.
Early 19th century. From scientific Latin Vertebrata (Cuvier 1817) from classical Latin vertebrāta, use as noun (short for animālia vertebrāta vertebrate animals) of neuter plural of vertebrātus.
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