The spine is an important part of the skeleton. It consists of the vertebrae, which are called dorsal vertebrae. These vertebrae are connected to each other by joints. That makes the back so flexible.
Not every mammal has the same number of vertebrae. Individual parts may have more or less of it. However, the vertebrae can also be of different lengths. Both humans and giraffes have seven cervical vertebrae, but the individual vertebrae in the giraffe are much longer.
The spine has two jobs. On the one hand, it keeps the body stable. On the other hand, it protects the nerves that reach the whole body from the brain.
What belongs to a vertebra?
A vertebra consists of a vertebral body, which is roughly round. On each side of it is a vertebral arch. At the back is a hump, the spinous process. You can see it well in people and feel it with your hand.
Between every two vertebral bodies lies a round disk of cartilage. They are called intervertebral discs. They absorb shock. In older people, dry up and contract a little. That’s why people get smaller in the course of life.
Each vertebral arch is connected to its neighbor above and below by a joint. This makes the back flexible and stable at the same time. The vertebrae are held together by ligaments and muscles. Ligaments are something like tendons.
There is a hole between the vertebral body, vertebral arch, and spinous process. It’s kind of like an elevator shaft in a house. In there, a thick cord of nerves runs from the brain to the end of the spine and from there to the legs. This nerve cord is called the spinal cord.
How is the spine divided?
The spine is divided into different sections. The cervical spine is the most flexible, and the vertebrae are the smallest. You also only have to wear your head.
The thoracic spine consists of the thoracic vertebrae. What is special about them is that the ribs are loosely attached to them. The ribs rise when you breathe. The thoracic spine and ribs together form the rib cage.
The lumbar vertebrae are the largest because they carry the most weight. Because of that, she’s not very agile. The lumbar spine is where most pain occurs, especially in the elderly and those who carry a lot of weight.
The sacrum is also part of the spine. It consists of individual vertebrae. But they are so fused together that it looks like a bone plate with holes. There is a pelvic scoop on each side. They are connected by a joint that moves a little when you walk.
The coccyx sits under the sacrum. In humans, it is tiny and curved inwards. You can feel it between your buttocks with your hand. It hurts when you fall on your butt, for example, if you slipped on the ice. What the coccyx is for humans, the tail is for mammals.