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Description and locations of the bones of the vertebra and ribs

Vertebral column

Consists of 22 vertebrae, the sacrum, and the coccyx

Divisions of the vertebra

7 cervical vertebrae, 12 thoracic vertebra, and 5 lumbar vertebrae

General features of vertebrae

Posterior spinous process, anterior vertebral body, two lateral transverse processes, and a central vertebral foramen

Cervical vertebrae

7 vertebrae located in the neck; have holes in their transverse processes called transverse foramina; have bifid or forked spinous processes

Transverse foramina

permit the passage of vertebral artery and vein; a feature of the cervical vertebrae


(C1); first cervical vertebra; articulates with the occipital bone; large vertebral foramen, no body, or spinous process


(C2); second cervical vertebra; superior projection called the dens or odontoid process.

Atlanto-axial joint

The dens of the axis fits up inside the atlas to form this joint, which allows rotation of the head.


12 thoracic vertebrae; spinous processes that are thin and point inferiorly; two costal facets that articulate with the ribs, triangular vertebral foramina; looks like a giraffe

Lumbar vertabrae

5 lumbar vertebrae; large, block-like body; spinous processes that are thick and point posteriorly; looks like a moose


Consists of 5 fused vertebrae, median sacral crest, sacral foramina, and sacroiliac joints

Median sacral crest

Fused spinous processes of the vertebrae located on the sacrum's posterior side

Sacral foramina

Holes that allow the passage of spinal nerves, which flank both sides of the sacral bodies

Sacroiliac joints

Articulation of the lateral surfaces of the sacrum and the hip bones


Consists of 3-5 small, fused vertabrae; articulates superiorly with the sacrum

Bones of the thoracic cavity

sternum, ribs, and hyoid bone of the neck

3 divisions of the sternum

upper Manubrium, middle body, and lower xiphoid process

Ribs, general

12 pairs of ribs (24 ribs); classified according to how they attach to the sternum

True ribs

Ribs 1-7; attach directly to the sternum through their own cartilage

False ribs

Ribs 8-10; attach to the cartilage of the true ribs

Floating ribs

Ribs 11-12; lack attachment to the sternum

Hyoid bone

Classified as a skull bone; does not articulate with any skull bone or other bone; held in place in the superior neck by muscles and ligaments; forms the framework for the larynx; serves as an attachment site for muscles of tongue and aids in swallowing; consists of a body and greater/lesser horn

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