The structure and development of the individual vertebrates are not widely varied throughout the spinal column. The basic structure of the vertebrates includes a drum shaped body which come in contact with the cartilage disks that segregate the vertebrates. At the posterior surface of the body one will find the vertebral arch, which is made up of two supporting pedicles and two arched laminae. The vertebral arch and the body compose a small space in which the spinal cord passes known as the vertebral foramen. The spinal nerves naturally need to branch off the spinal cord in order to communicate with the rest of the body. This happens through intevertebral foraminas which is created by the space between the pedicles and the adjacent vertebrate.


A typical vertebrate contain 7 processes. These include on spinous, two transverse, two superior articular, and two inferior articular processes. The spinous and transverse processes are suitable for the attachment of muscle. The superior and inferior articluar processes are responsible for limiting the amount of twist the spinal column can accommodate. The spinous process extends itself inferiorly as well as behind the vertebral arch. At the site of junction between the lamina and the pedicle, the transverse process extends laterally from the corresponding sides of the vertebra. The superior and inferior articluar process interlock with each other and the inferior process then interlocks with the adhering bone from above.


Image: Vertebrate


There are 7 cervical vertebrates. Their main function aside from providing safe passage for the spinal cord is to provide ample support for the head while creating a framework of flexibility for the neck. The cervical vertebrates are denser with stronger bone tissue than the remainder of the spinal column. They are also smaller than most of the bones within the spinal column with the exception of the coccygeal region. Unlike other vertebrates, the cervical vertebrates are designed with a transverse foramen and a transverse process. The body’s natural method of supplying blood flow the brain requires that arteries and veins pass through these foramens in order to provide ample oxygenated blood throughout the brain and surrounding tissue. The cervical vertebrates known specifically as C-2 through C-6 are equipped with a notched spinous process also known as a bifid. This bifid is responsible for increasing the surface area associated with area for attachment of the very strong ligament which attaches to the base of the skull known as the nuchal ligament.


Cervical Vertebrate
Image: Cervical Vertebrate

The first cervical vertebrate (which is often referred to as the atlas) is devoid of any processes or openings that allow this transfer of weight and tension. The cervical vertebrate C-7 has a process that is not notched, or bifid, and does not contribute to the distribution of weight or strength. The atlas is different as it is also devoid of the typical body associated with vertebrates. Instead, it is equipped with a short and round spinous process known as the posterior tubercle. It is also designed with cupped superior articluar surfaces which which join together with the oval occipital condyles of the skull. This ingenious design of nature permits the motion of “nodding” and up and down movements with the formation of the joint known as atlanto-occiptal joint. The adverse action of back and forth motion is administered through the design of the axis on the second vertebrate. This axis is formed by the odontoid process which acts like a peg or short spear which part of the base of the skull rests upon and through muscular movements creates the back and forth action.


The twelve thoracic vertebrates form the basic anchor of the rib cage which joins together with the spinal column in the posterior skeletal anatomical design. These vertebrates are larger than the previous vertebra, the cervical vertebra, and increase in size as they go down the spine. Every individual thoracic vertebra is designed with a lengthy spinous process which slopes gently downward. They are also individually equipped with fovea, or facets, in order to securely connect with the ribs.


Heavy bodies and ample, broad, and blunt spinous processes make the 5 lumbar vertebrates easily identifiable. The spinous process allow for the larger and more powerful back muscles to attach, and are designed accordingly. Without a doubt, these are the largest of the vertebrates in the spinal column. They differ in design as related to their articular processes as well. The inferior articular processes are positioned laterally instead of anteriorly and the superior articular processes are positioned medially rather than posteriorly.


The sacrum has a unique wedge shape that acts as a foundation for the pelvic girdle. The 4 or 5 sacral vertebrates fuse once the human body has been alive for about 26 years. The sacrum is equipped with a widespread auricular surface designed on opposing lateral sides. This structure sets up the formation for joint that is only mildly ambulatory, known as the sacroiliac joint, which is formed in part with the ilium of the hip. The posterior surface lays the foundation for the medial sacral crest. The fusion of the spinal processes creates this crest. Nerves from the spinal cord pass through the posterior sacral foramina which are positioned on both sides of the crest.


Image: Sacrum

The sacrum is constructed with a tube shaped canal which provides continuity with the vertebral canal. The superior processes meet with the fifth lumbar vertebra arise along the posterior surface of the sacral tuberosity. The pelvic cavity is formed by the smoother anterior surface of the sacrum. The fusion of the vertebral bodies can be detected by 4 transverse lines. These lines lead to the pair of anterior sacral foramina. The sacral promontory is used as a gynecological landmark when measuring pelvic size and is positioned along the superior border of the anterior surface of the sacrum.


3 to 5 fused vertebra known as the coccygeal vertebrates form the triangular coccyx. More commonly called the tailbone, the coccyx begins with the first two fused vertebrates which are equipped with 2 lengthy coccygeal cornua, which in turn are attached via ligaments to the sacrum. The transverse processes are then positioned laterally to the cornua.


Image: Coccyx

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