found on the outside of the portion of the alimentary canal of chordates.

These grooves, indentations, or are found along the outside of the , opposite corresponding to found on the inside. Pharyngeal clefts are present at least at some point in the embryos and in most chordates serve as developmental precursors for pharyngeal slits.

Note that the pharynx is a , post- portion of the alimentary canal or as entering a gastrovascular cavaity.

The pharyngeal clefts are one of four defining chordate characteristics. The other three are a dorsal hollow nerve cord, notochord, and a post-anal muscular tail.