Definition: the major systemic venous channels in adult primitive vertebrates and in the embryos of higher vertebrates; the anterior cardinal veins are the major drainage channels from the cephalic part of the body, and the posterior cardinal veins, from the caudal part; the common cardinal veins, formed by the anastomosis of the anterior and posterior cardinal veins, are the main systemic return channels to the heart; in the older literature, sometimes called Cuvier ducts.
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