The cranium (the skull minus the lower jaw bone, or mandible) consists of 28 bones. (6 unpaired bone, and 8 paired bones, plus 3 ear bones on each side) (Bass, 2005). Some bones are paired, which means there is a left and right one, and some bones are unpaired, meaning there is just one. Here is a list of those bones with a brief description:
1. Frontal bone (Unpaired)- this is the forehead, from the eyebrows to the top of the skull.
2. Parietal bone (Paired)- there are 2 parietal bones, left and right. They connect at the top of the skull.
3. Occipital bone (Unpaired)- this is the back of the skull. Also, your spinal cord goes through a hole in this area (called the foramen magnum) and connects with the brain.
4. Temporal bone (Paired)- there are 2 temporal bones, left and right, one on either side of the skull.
5. Spenoid bone (Unpaired)- Helps to form the floor and the sides of the cranium.
6. Maxilla (Paired)- this is the upper jaw, where the upper teeth are located. There are 2 bones, left and right, that fuse together.
7. Nasal bones (Paired)- there are 2 nasal bones that come together to form the bridge of your nose.
8. Zygomatic bone (Paired)- there are two zygomatic bones. They are sometimes referred to as the cheek bones
9. Ethmoid (Unpaired)- this is hard to see, it is behind the eyes and nose, helping to form the wall of the back of the eye orbits.
10. Lacrimal (Paired)- 2 bones, one inside each eye orbit, close to the nasal bones.
11. Palatine bones (Paired)- there are 2 palatine bones that form the roof of the mouth.
11. Vomer (Unpaired)- this is a small, thin bone, that is behind the palate.
12. Inferior nasal concha (Paired)- 2 small fragile bones that are inside the nose.
13. Bones of the ear- there are 3 ear bones in the ear canal on each side of your skull known as the malleus, incus and stapes. These are commonly referred to as the Hammer, Anvil and the Stirrup, respectively, because of their shapes.
The mandible is more commonly known as the lower jaw bone. It is the strongest bone of the face (Bass, 2005). The Mandible articulates with the temporal bone of the cranium. The mandible is two separate bones (left and right) that fuse together to form one bone.
The hyoid is a small, horn-shaped bone that supports the tongue, and gives attachment to many muscles in speech (Bass, 2005). This bone is of particular interest to forensic anthropologists as it is commonly broken in cases of strangulation.
White, Tim D. and Pieter A. Folkens, 2005. The Human Bone Manual, Elsevier.
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