MEHAU KULYK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY MEHAU KULYK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Spinal vertebrae. Historical artwork of vertebrae (spinal bones) seen from the rear. The rear part of each of the four vertebrae seen here has been removed, revealing the vertebral canal where the spinal cord is located (it has been removed here). The vertical lines (down centre) are the ligaments that hold the vertebrae together, and between each vertebra is a disc of cartilage. Each vertebra consists of a block of bone (centre) that carries the weight supported by the spine, plus protruding bits of bone called processes (left and right, the rear processes have been removed). The processes are where the back ligaments and muscles attach to the spine. The main spinal column contains 24 vertebrae. These are thoracic (chest) vertebrae.
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