Vertebral column

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"Vertebra" redirects here. For other uses, see Vertebra (disambiguation) and Human vertebral column.

Vertebral column of a goat
The vertebral column, also known as backbone or spine, is a bony structure found in Vertebrates. It is formed from the vertebrae.

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1 In humans 2 In other animals

2.1 Structure of individual vertebrae

2.1.1 Classification

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2.2 Fish and amphibians 2.3 Amniotes

3 References

In humans[edit]

[1] and nine fused vertebrae in the sacrum and the coccyx. The number of cervical vertebrae is. The upper three regions comprise the remaining 24. separated byintervertebral discs. according to the regions they occupy. Cervical vertebrae are those in the neck area.[citation needed] In other animals[edit] In animals. or it may be diminished in one region. Dorsal vertebrae attached to ribs are called thoracic vertebrae. however. and hence is commonly called the spine. The dorsal vertebrae range from the bottom of the neck to the top of the pelvis. while those without ribs are called lumbar vertebrae. and are grouped under the names cervical (seven vertebrae). including the five that are fused to form the sacrum (the others are separated by intervertebral discs) and the four coccygeal bones that form the tailbone. to as many as 25 in swans or 76 in the extinct plesiosaur Elasmosaurus. and range from . thoracic (12 vertebrae) and lumbar (five vertebrae). There are normally 33 vertebrae in humans. It is situated in the dorsal aspect of the torso. the deficiency often being supplied by an additional vertebra in another. very rarely increased or diminished. Main article: Human vertebral column In human anatomy.Human vertebral column. With exception of two sloth genera (Choloepus and Bradypus) and the manatee (Trichechus). vertebrae are defined by the regions of the vertebral column they occur in.[2] all mammals have seven cervical vertebrae. the vertebral column usually consists of 24 articulating vertebrae. This number is sometimes increased by an additional vertebra in one region. or simply backbone.[3] In other vertebrates it can range from a single vertebra in amphibians. It houses and protects the spinal cord in its spinal canal. The sacral vertebrae are those in the pelvic region.

but in the evolutionary line that led to reptiles (and hence. arches protruding from the top and bottom of the centrum. and various processes projecting from the centrum and/or arches. They are found in frogs and modern reptiles. In aspidospondyly. Structure of individual vertebrae[edit] Individual vertebrae are composed of a centrum (body). and in amphibians. The vertebral arch surrounds the spinal cord. a larger arch-shaped intercentrum to protect the lower border. classify a vertebra as having holospondyly. Amphicoelous centra often are integrated with a full notochord. and some of the thoracic and caudal vertebra. A similar arrangement was found in the primitive Labyrinthodonts. A vertebra can also be described in terms of the shape of the ends of the centra. possessing anterior convexity and posterior concavity. some birds. Centra with flat ends are acoelous. and zygapophyses (both the cranial zygapophyses and the caudal zygapophyses). This shape is common in fish. most reptiles. which protects the upper surface of the notochord. and is of broadly similar form to that found in most other vertebrates. Procoelous vertebrae are anteriorly concave and posteriorly convex. Fish and amphibians[edit] The vertebrae of lobe-finned fishes consist of three discrete bony elements. and the final few can be fused into the pygostyle in birds. where most motion is limited. Heterocoelous vertebrae have saddle-shaped articular surfaces. because it permits extensive lateral and vertical flexion motion without stretching the nerve cord too extensively or wringing it about its long axis. and in some non-avian dinosaurs. Common types are transverse process. and some mammals with long tails. parapophyses. This type of configuration is seen in turtles that retract their necks. and below that. diapophyses. When multiple sacral vertebrae are fused into a single structure. lumbar. however. Fused elements. as well as the pelvic girdle. The synsacrum is a similar fused structure found in birds that is composed of the sacral. it is called the sacrum. to two in most birds and modern reptiles. Caudal vertebrae compose the tail. or serve as muscle attachment points. . Amphicoelous vertebra have centra with both ends concave. while the hemal arch or chevron is found underneath the centrum in the caudal (tail) vertebrae of fish. An arch extending from the top of the centrum is called a neural arch. They are found in salamanders. Just beneath the arch lies a small plate-like pleurocentrum. Classification[edit] The centra of the vertebra can be classified based upon the fusion of its elements. Opisthocoelous vertebrae are the opposite. The vertebral processes can either give the structure rigidity. or up to 3 to 5 in mammals. help them articulate with ribs. Both of these structures are embedded within a single cylindrical mass of cartilage. These flat ends of the centra are especially good at supporting and distributing compressive forces. bones such as the neural spine. or into the coccygeal or tail bone in chimpanzees (and humans). like those in mammals. the pleurocentrum and the intercentrum are separate ossifications.

and help to support the musculature. In the tail. a solid piece of bone superficially resembling the vertebral body of mammals. changing to long strips of cartilage above and below in the tail region. however. These latter bones are probably homologous with the ventral ribs of fish. these are attached to chevron-shaped bones called haemal arches. Hagfishes lack a true vertebral column. these two structures are fused with. Even these patterns are only generalisations. and birds. but also includes additional cartilagenous structures filling in the gaps between the vertebrae.[4] In birds. with no trace of the separate elements present in the early tetrapods.also to mammals and birds). and has a complex structure. consisting of separate pieces of arch-shaped cartilage around the spinal cord in most parts of the body. there is a variable number of cervical vertebrae. Even the arches are discontinuous. and some thoracic and caudal . the vertebrae consist of two cartilagenous tubes. vary somewhat between different groups. containing a remnant of the notochord. which are present as small crescent-shaped bony elements lying between the bodies of adjacent vertebrae. which often form the only truly flexible part of the spine. and there may be variation in form of the vertebrae along the length of the spine even within a single species. The lower tube surrounds the notochord. often including multiple layers of calcification. and so enclosing the spinal cord in an essentially continuous sheath. In living amphibians. and are therefore not properly considered vertebrates. The shape of the vertebral body does. which attach below the base of the spine. reptiles. and may be several hundred in some species of snake.[4] In cartilagenous fish.[4] Amniotes[edit] The general structure of human vertebrae is fairly typical of that found in mammals. The number of vertebrae in the spines of reptiles is highly variable. such as sharks. providing a solid brace for the wings during flight. there is simply a cylindrical piece of bone below the vertebral arch. which in turn became the bony vertebral body. Some unusual variations include the saddle-shaped sockets between the cervical vertebrae of birds and the presence of a narrow hollow canal running down the centre of the vertebral bodies ofgeckos and tuataras. but nothing resembling the vertebral bodies found in all higher vertebrates. The upper tube is formed from the vertebral arches. The sacral vertebrae are fused with the lumbar vertebrae. and embedded within. while in reptiles the anterior surface commonly has a concave socket into which the expanded convex face of the next vertebral body fits. the intercentrum became partially or wholly replaced by an enlarged pleurocentrum.[4] In most ray-finned fishes. including all teleosts. similar structures are often found in the caudal vertebrae of mammals. The thoracic vertebrae are partially fused. it typically has flat upper and lower surfaces.[4] Reptiles often retain the primitive intercentra. such as humans. but a few tiny neural arches are present in the tail.[4] Lampreys have vertebral arches. however. In mammals.

Retrieved 25 July 2013.CO. ^ "vertebral column" at Dorland's Medical Dictionary 2. pp. May 6th 2011. depending on the number of ribs. 4. for attachment of the tail feathers. the remaining caudal vertebrae are fused into a further bone. doi:10. followed by around twenty or so further vertebrae. Science Daily. which is thus of greater relative length than the sacrum of mammals. Categories:   Vertebral column Vertebrate anatomy .[4] References[edit] Wikimedia Commons has media related to:Vertebral column 1. the pygostyle. 161– 170.[4] Aside from the tail. Hox genes and Cancer". ^ Frietson Galis (1999). In living birds. "Why do almost all mammals have seven cervical vertebrae? Developmental constraints. and anything up to fifty caudal vertebrae.1002/(SICI)1097010X(19990415)285:1<19::AID-JEZ3>3. divided between the thoracic and lumbar forms. (1977). ISBN 0-03-910284-X. ^ "Sticking Their Necks out for Evolution: Why Sloths and Manatees Have Unusually Long (or Short) Necks". the number of vertebrae in mammals is generally fairly constant. Philadelphia.PMID 10327647. ^ a b c d e f g h Romer. 3. the synsacrum.0. The Vertebrate Body. PA: Holt-Saunders International. Thomas S. Journal of experimental zoology 285 (1): 19–26. to form a single structure.2-Z. There are generally three to five vertebrae with the sacrum.vertebrae. Alfred Sherwood. There are almost always seven cervical vertebrae (sloths and manateesare among the few exceptions). Parsons.