AJ PHOTO / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY AJ PHOTO / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Vertebral column. The vertebral column (spine) runs from the skull to the pelvis. It is a flexible column of small compact bones called vertebrae, that enclose and protect the spinal cord. In adults, there are 26 vertebrae. At top is the occipital bone of the skull, hinging with the first (C1 or atlas) vertebra. At bottom, the sacrum (tail bone, a fusion of several vertebra) hinges with the pelvic bones. The bony protrusions to the rear and back of each vertebra are the vertebral processes, where the muscles and ligaments of the back attach to the bone.
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