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A cephalochordate (from Greek: κεφαλή kephalé, "head" and χορδή khordé, "chord") is an animal defined by the presence of a notochord that persists throughout life. It is represented in the modern oceans by the Amphioxiformes (lancelets). The members of this subphylum are very small and have no hard parts, making their fossils difficult to find. Fossilized species have been found in very old rocks predating vertebrates. There is famous fossil shale from the Middle Cambrian Burgess Shale of British Columbia, which has yielded Pikaia fossils.

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