JAMES STEVENSON / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY. JAMES STEVENSON / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY.
Photograph of the human third lumbar vertebra (L3), one of five bones that comprise the lumbar spine of the lower back. The vertebra is seen in inferior aspect with the dorsal surface at top: in other words, one is looking at the anatomical undersurface of the bone with its back-facing surface at top. Lumbar vertebrae have large, wide bodies - the disc-like bone at bottom; the bony processes (spinous at top, transverse at left & right) are relatively short and thickened and are used as anchorages for the strong muscles of the lower back. The central opening (the vertebral canal) accommodates the spinal cord.
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