SOVEREIGN, ISM / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SOVEREIGN, ISM / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Backbone. Coloured X-ray of part of the spine of a 13-year-old child, seen from the front. The spine consists of 26 blocks of bone (vertebrae, blue). Seven vertebrae are seen here: the upper five are thoracic vertebrae, with ribs attached to either side; the lower two are lumbar vertebrae. The bony vertebral processes that protrude into the back can be seen either side of the lumbar vertebrae. The X-ray was taken with the child in an upright position, with a normal load on the spine. The spaces seen between the vertebrae contain discs of cartilage that cushion the weight carried by the spine. The spine protects the spinal cord, and flexes to allow movement of the torso and neck.
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