nerve cord

noun
1.
a single hollow tract of nervous tissue that constitutes the central nervous system of chordates and develops into the spinal cord and brain in vertebrates.
2.
a solid double strand of nerve fibers along the length of the body in elongate invertebrates, as earthworms and insects, connecting with a pair of nerve ganglia at each body segment.

Origin:
1875–80

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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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The lancelet's nerve cord is slightly swollen near its head, but this bulge is not yet a brain.
Its nervous system, such as it is, is organized around a simple nerve cord running along its back.
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