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From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Notochord \No"to*chord\, n. [Gr. nw^ton the back + E. chord.] (Anat.) 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 vertebrae and the posterior part of the base of the skull are developed; the chorda dorsalis. See Illust. of Ectoderm. [1913 Webster]