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The process whose specific outcome is the progression of the notochord over time, from its formation to the mature structure. The notochord is a mesoderm-derived structure located ventral of the developing nerve cord. In vertebrates, the notochord serves as a core around which other mesodermal cells form the vertebrae. In the most primitive chordates, which lack vertebrae, the notochord persists as a substitute for a vertebral column.