MEHAU KULYK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY MEHAU KULYK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Spinal vertebrae. Historical artwork of vertebrae (spinal bones) seen from the side. The rear of the spine is at right. Four vertebrae are seen here. The blocks of bone at left bear most of the weight that is supported by the spine. The spine is cushioned by discs of cartilage between each vertebra (the cartilage is not shown here, only the spaces are shown). The projecting bits of bone at right are the processes of each vertebra, and are where the back ligaments and muscles attach to the spine. The spinal cord (not shown here) runs at right of the vertebral blocks, in a space called the vertebral canal. The main spinal column contains 24 vertebrae. These are thoracic (chest) vertebrae.
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