JAMES STEVENSON / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY. JAMES STEVENSON / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY.
Photograph of the human fourth cervical vertebra, the fourth bone comprising the spinal column in the neck. The vertebra is seen in anterior aspect, with inferior surface at bottom: in other words, one is looking at the front surface with the base of the bone at bottom of image. The first cervical vertebra, the atlas bone, articulates with the occipital bone of the base of the skull. The vertebral column is a semi-rigid, bony pillar that supports surrounding muscles and encases and protects the spinal cord, which runs down its length.
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