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bones and landmarks

Frontal bone

the large cranial bone forming the front part of the cranium: the forehead and the upper part of the orbits


Located between the superciliary arches and the inferior part of the frontal bone at the root of the nose.

Parietal bone

either of two skull bones between the frontal and occipital bones and forming the top and sides of the cranium

sagittal suture

midline articulation point of the two parietal bones

coronal suture

articulation between parietal bones and frontal bone anteriorly

Temporal bone

located below each parietal bone forming the lower sides and the base of the skull

squamous suture

Point of articulation of the temporal bone with the parietal bone

zygomatic process

Bridgelike projection that forms the posterior zygomatic arch (cheekbone).

mandibular fossa

the depression in the temporal bone into which the condyle of the mandible fits.

external acoustic meatus

canal leading to eardrum and middle ear: tympanic region marking of the temporal bone

styloid process

Small, pencil-like shaped projection that comes off of the bottom of the temporal Bone

mastoid process

rough projection on the temporal bone, inferior and posterior to external acoustic meatus; attachment site for muscles

stylomastoid foramen

Tiny opening between the mastoid and styloid processes through which cranial nerve VII leaves the cranium

jugular foramen

located on inferior, petrous part of the temporal bone posterior to the carotid canal near the suture line of the occipital and temporal bones

carotid canal

located on petrous (bony) portion of the temporal bone, anterior to the jugular foramen which internal carotid artery passes

internal acoustic meatus

opening on the posterior aspect (petrous region) of the temporal bone allowing passage of the cranial nerves VII and VIII

Occipital bone

forms the posterior floor and walls of the cranium

lambdoid suture

Site of articulation of the occipital bone and parietal bones

foramen magnum

large opening in base of occipital allows the spinal cord to join with the brain

occipital condyle

Rounded projections lateral to the foramen magnum that articulate with the first cervical vertebra (atlas)

hypoglossal canal

This foramen has appreciable depth and is found in the occipital bone on the lateral surface of the foramen magnum. It provides a passage for cranial nerve XII.

Sphenoid bone

butterfly shaped bone that forms part of the floor and sides of the cranium

greater wing

articulate with the temporal bone on either side and anteriorly with frontal and zygomatic bones to form part of the orbit

optic canal

opening located in the lesser wing of the sphenoid, medial to the superior orbital fissure

superior orbital fissures

jagged openings in orbits providing passage for cranial nerves to enter the orbit where they serve the eye between greater and lesser wings

foramen ovale

2nd of three holes situated laterally of the sella turcica, more oval shaped

lesser wing

anterior and superior to greater wing on the inferior of the sphenoid bone

sella turcica

a saddle-shaped region in the sphenoid midline which nearly encloses the pituitary gland; feature of the sphenoid bone

foramen rotundum

1st of three holes situated laterally of the sella turcica, top one

Ethmoid bone

forms part of the posterior portion of the nose, the orbit, and the floor of the cranium

crista galli

bony ridge that projects upward into the cranial cavity

cribriform plates

(behind nose) one on either side of crista galli (projection for attachment of membranes covering brain); form roof of nasal cavity

perpendicular plate

inferior projection of the ethmoid that forms the superior part of the nasal septum

middle nasal concha

the middle thin, spongy, bony plate with curved margins, part of the ethmoidal labyrinth, projecting from the lateral wall of the nasal cavity and separating the superior meatus from the middle meatus


The horseshoe-shaped bone forming the inferior jaw.

mandibular condyle

Articulate with mandibular fossa of temporal bone. Only freely movable joint in the skull.

coronoid process

front point of semi-circle of the jaw hinge, location of attachment for jaw muscles


Back corner of mandible where body and ramus meet

mental foramen

two small openings near the front of the mandible for the passage of the mental nerve/ blood vessels.

mandibular foramen

opening in the inner surface where the alveolar nerve of the 5th trigemenial nerve passes(sensory innervation for the teeth and gums)

alveolar margin

projections on the maxilla and mandible where tooth sockets are located

Maxillary bone

upper jaw bone, there are 2 that join together, contain sinuses, has sockets that hold the teeth

palatine process

forms the anterior portion of the hard palate (roof) of the mouth also forms parts of the nasal cavity and eye orbits

infraorbital foramen

opening into anterior surface of maxilla underneath eye, carries the infraorbital nerve and artery

Palatine bone

either of two irregularly shaped bones that form the back of the hard palate and helps to form the nasal cavity and the floor of the orbits

Zygomatic bone

the arch of bone beneath the eye that forms the prominence of the cheek

Lacrimal bone

small fragile bone making up part of the front inner walls of each eye socket and providing room for the passage of the lacrimal ducts(tear ducts)

Nasal bone

an elongated rectangular bone that forms the bridge of the nose

Vomer bone

shaped like the blade of a plow, it forms part of the nasal septum along with the perpendicular plate of the ethmoid

Inferior nasal concha

shelf-like projection of bone; covered by thick mucosa; increases surface area of nasal cavity and warm inhaled air


individual segment of the backbone; encloses and protects the spinal cord

transverse process

one of two processes that extend from each vertebra and provide the point of articulation for the ribs

vertebral foramen

opening in the middle of the vertebra. the spinal cord passes through here.

spinous process

Posterior projection from the junction of the two laminae. Attachment site for muscles. Not present in the atlas.

body of vertebra

This is a relatively large portion of each vertebra. The intervertebral disc attaches to it. This portion is responsible for transfering most of the weight to the vertebra inferior to it.

cervical vertebrae

the first set of seven vertebrae that form the neck; also known as C1 through C7


has no body and articulates cranially with the occipital condyles; allows one to shake head "yes"; C1


C-2, has large, broad dorsal spinous projections and cranial projection that fits into C-1, allows one to pivot head

dens or odontoid process

tooth-like or peg-like process on C2 that projects up into C1.

Thoracic vertebrae

T1-T12; have distinctive heart-shaped bodies; long, slender spinous processes and articulations of the ribs

Lumbar vertebrae

L1-L5 no transverse foramina- no rib facets- largest body- thick spinous processes that extend horizontally, lower back area


wedge-shaped bone consisting of five fused vertebrae forming the posterior part of the pelvis


the tailbone, made up of the four fused vertebrae at the base of the spinal column


the flat bone that articulates with the clavicles and the first seven pairs of ribs


triangular shaped upper region of sternum. articulates with the clavicles and with the cartilages of the first pair of ribs.

xiphoid process

made of cartilage found at the end of the sternum, provide an attachment point for the diaphragm

body of sternum

largest portion of sternum & is found inferior of the manubrium & superior to the xiphoid process. it is where the cartilage from the 2nd through 7th ribs attach

true ribs

top 7 pairs of ribs that attach directly to the sternum by costal cartilage

false ribs

lower 5 pairs, first 3 attached to sternum of 7th ribs, lowest 2 pairs dont (floating ribs)

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