Alright, I’ll do my best to explain this. In all of these images the skull is to the right and the tail is to the left, and the left image is the top view and the right image is the bottom view.

•First two images are the cervical vertebrae. There should be 7 of these, including the atlas and axis, which are the very first two vertebrae and allow for side to side and up and down head movement.

•The next set are the thoracic vertebrae, and there should be 14. These are the vertebrae that connect to the ribs.

•Next set are the lumbar vertebrae, these are heavier set and there should be 6.

•Next two are the sacral vertebrae, which are fused into one, and connects to the pelvis. In these pictures you can also see the beginnings of the caudal vertebrae, or the tail. I didn’t get close ups of the whole tail because its pretty straight forward, just line them up largest to smallest.
Well okay, I hope that is helpful! If you or anyone else ever needs any reference images I’d be happy to oblige. Happy articulating!

EDIT: the vertebrae count was meant for a user asking about *raccoons*, these numbers vary between species, and caudal vertebrae can vary within a species as well.

Got Back Pain? You Might Be Part Chimp

A study, published in BMC Evolutionary Biology, compared the shapes of lower-back vertebrae among humans, chimpanzees and orangutans. Also studied were so-called Schmorl’s nodes, the soft tissue of a spinal disc that pushes into the bone of the vertebrae above and below.

After analysis of all the apes’ lower spines, the researchers said in a press release that “…The last thoracic and first lumbar vertebrae of healthy humans, chimpanzees and orangutans can be distinguished from each other, but vertebrae of pathological humans and chimpanzees cannot.”

In other words, the researchers could not tell the difference between the vertebrae of a human with mid-to-lower spine disease — with Schmorl’s nodes — and a chimp.

More info

FDA approves robotic exoskeleton to help paraplegics walk again

Some paraplegics may be able to walk again, thanks to a new robotic device approved by the Food and Drug Administration. People with lower-body paralysis due to spinal cord injuries will be able to purchase the new exoskeleton suit.

The device, called ReWalk, is a motorized, fitted brace that supports the legs and part of the upper body. The motors supply movement at the hips, knees and ankles. The device also uses a tilt sensor and backpack with a computer and power supply. A person wearing the suit will be able to sit, stand and walk with assistance from a trained companion, according to the FDA statement.

Paralysis – either complete or partial – due to a spinal injury affects approximately 200,000 people in the US, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. Candidates for the ReWalk have spinal cord injuries at levels T7, the seventh thoracic vertebra, to L5, the fifth lumbar vertebra, when accompanied by a specially trained caregiver. A version is approved for use at rehabilitation institutions only for people with injuries at levels T4, the fourth thoracic vertebra, to T6, the sixth thoracic vertebra.

Study to explore spinal cord stimulation to ease paralysis

A Vanderbilt neurosurgeon is looking to recruit patients with paraplegia to investigate whether intraspinal microstimulation technology can restore complex body movements.

The implantation of tiny electrodes along the spinal cord has caused paralyzed animals to walk, but it has yet to be tested with humans. Peter Konrad, M.D., Ph.D., and his research team are seeking volunteers willing to participate in a proof of concept experiment.

The study requirements are very specific. The participants must be undergoing a previously scheduled spinal surgery for a reason other than the experiment. And they should have a completely severed spinal cord between the thoracic 3 and thoracic 8 vertebrae without further damage below that point.

“I want absolutely no question that we are creating the movement and that there is no accidental circuitry input,” Konrad said.

Konrad is looking to do the proof of concept experiment with two patients before seeking to expand the study. Joseph Cheng, M.D., director of the Neurosurgery Spine Program, is overseeing the data safety and monitoring of the study.

“This is such a landmark study, and one which has the potential to help paralyzed people walk again,” Cheng said. “Even at this early stage, I feel the concept of intraspinal microstimulation has shown the best promise at this time for our patients who suffer from paraplegia. I think whoever volunteers for this study will be leading the way for those suffering with paraplegia, and who really have no other options for treatment.”

However, with this initial proof of concept study the patient volunteers cannot expect any permanent improvements in movement from the experiment.

“We are not going to implant anything,” Konrad said. “We are just going to test the concept in the spinal cords of paralyzed people coming in for another reason for surgery.”

While the brain may send movement signals to the body, there are areas along the spinal cord, central pattern generators, that are already programmed to elicit certain types of body responses — a theory that has been proven in animals with research conducted at the University of Alberta, Canada, by Vivian Mushahwar, Ph.D., a neuroscientist and bioengineer.

“Dr. Mushahwar basically showed there are some very small areas inside the spinal cord regions in the lower thoracic area where there is a sweet spot of stimulation that can induce complex stepping movements,” Konrad said.

These areas direct smoother, coordinated movements in animals, he noted, and if the same is true in humans, intraspinal microstimulation should prove superior to other paths researchers are pursuing. Other methods that have shown promise for people who are paralyzed, such as peripheral stimulators, have produced fast movement that quickly results in rapid fatigue, he said.

“You are stimulating out on the muscle,” Konrad said. “You are not roping in on the efficiency of the spinal cord circuitry.”

Researchers at the University of Louisville have used a method called epidural stimulation, which involves the placement of electrodes along the outside of the spinal cord to spur movement. This procedure is commonly used to implant stimulators for pain control. However, Konrad said intraspinal microstimulation should elicit more controlled stepping and movement.

The concept of placing tiny wires into the spinal cord is similar to the deep brain stimulation (DBS) surgery that Konrad performs every week at Vanderbilt. However, the location of the micro-wires will be applied to mapping spinal cord circuits instead of the deep brain circuits. The wires will be much smaller than a strand of human hair.

“We are talking about a 0.1 millimeter to 0.2 millimeter sweet spot in the cord,” Konrad said. “That makes it a very small area. If you stimulate one area of the cord, you can get a certain type of movement. You move it half a millimeter; you get another type of movement. If we can find that this sweet spot is lying dormant in paralyzed people, then there will be an enormous incentive to develop a device to awaken it.”


The Vertebral Column (of the horse)

*Please refer to this diagram for a description of directional terminilogy.

The vertebral column comprises 7 cervical, 18 thoracic, 6 lumbar, 5 sacral, and about 20 caudal vertebrae. Variations in number are not uncommon; the most frequent is the reduction of the lumbar vertebrae to five, especially in the Arab. The impression of shortness in the loins in other breeds is more often due to a marked caudal inclination of the last ribs. 

[ The original source for this image was impossible to track, so my apologies. ]

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Bone Poem

Tell me again about the slick bones
of the skull: occipital, frontal, temporal, parietal,

and the forgiving groove of fontanels grown
stone-hard and stubborn. Tell me about

cervical and thoracic vertebrae rising
from the lover’s lumbar curve, about clavicles

and sternum, and floating ribs falling south.
Tell me about the humerus, twisting dance of radius

and ulna, how all twenty-eight phalanges
swing open on the hand’s silent hinges.

Tell me about cane-shaped femurs, the fluted
pipe of tibia, and slender, clasping fibula,

tarsals wide and sure, and calcaneum, the calculus
of our unending path. Tell me about the smooth bowl

of the pelvis with its high and wide iliac crests,
the sacrifice of sacrum, and coccyx, memory of tail.

Tell me again about the bony tools of the ear,
how hammer, stirrup, and anvil return to us

the sounds of our small, miraculous lives.

– heather davis

Jeremy Hammond, 22

Jeremy is a senior computer technology major from Greensboro, North Carolina. He suffered from a blood clot near his 6th thoracic vertebra and has since been in a wheel chair. Before the injury Jeremy, more affectionately known as “Jermo”, described himself as a “nonstop hooper”. His laughter is infectious, and his sense of humor is unparalleled. Despite his current condition, Jeremy keeps a positive attitude and is a delight to be around.

The long-awaited debut collection from me, now available in .epub format! 

download here

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The Spine

i. Cervical Curve

Granting Thetis’s wish, great Zeus
shook his head, using the atlanto-axial joint*
to turn it; with his dark brows the son
of Kronos inclined his head, consenting
to Greek pain, for swift-living Achilles’ sake.
*If gods have such joints: after all
it is a landmark on the human spine.

ii. The Thoracic Vertebrae

This is what happens when the back
is broken, when the nerves that conduct
the orders of the brain from command
center to the thing commanded
are severed, as by Achilles’ great spear:
everything goes dark; the electricity
that led from mind to foot, that creates
Hector’s swiftness, is undone.
(They chase each other around
the city, whose spine Hector is;
Achilles is like a dog chasing a hare,
to catch and shake, to break its neck.)

iii. Lumbar Spine

Each vertebra slots into place with a crack
as his spine straightens to throw the spear,
as he throws, as he watches to see it hit,
as he falls, exhausted by grief and exertion,
as Zeus’ plan, seen from the start, is accomplished.

iv. Sacrum

Every part of him is holy, but this part
is holier by its name, given by Galen,
perhaps because this is the piece
of the animal that was sacrificed,
as the heroes were sacrificed to history.

v. Coccyx

In humans it is only the memory of a tail;
but it is an anchor for muscle and nerve,
important like the final line, falling into place:
thus they buried Hector, tamer of horses.

If I were a crystal gem I’d be chalcopyrite.

My weapon would be a greatsword drawn from my back at the first thoracic vertebra.  I was gonna draw this but I didn’t get far.


Upper and parasagittal surfaces of the typical thoracic vertebra. 
The cavities in the center of each vertebra form a continuous spinal canal which house and protect the delicate neurons of the spinal cord. A paper in the Journal of Anatomy reports a great variance in the breaking point of lumbar vertebrae, some requiring as much as 16 kilonewtons of force to break - a figure somewhat less than the force of a bite from a great white shark (~18kN). 
This illustration is from Gray’s Anatomy (1918)

19th century skeleton of a woman with Pott’s disease, or spinal tuberculosis.  This specimen is from the John Collins Warren Collection at the Warren Anatomical Museum.

TB is caused by a bacterium from the genus Mycobaterium.   M. tuberculosis infects the lungs, and is spread via contaminated bodily fluids (i.e. saliva or mucus) that are dispersed during a cough or a sneeze.  Once in the lungs the infection can spread through the blood stream to other parts of the body, including bones.   Once the TB bacteria is in the spine the infection is then called spinal tuberculosis.

Spinal tuberculosis, or Pott’s disease, makes up half of the cases of skeletal TB.  When in the spine, the infection is largely limited to the intervertebral disk space and vertebral bodies, and most often affects the lower thoracic vertebrae or the upper lumbar vertebrae. When the infection sets into the vertebral bodies an abscess can form causing the vertebrae to collapse and a severe curvature to form.  

Title: Ad Astra - latin ; “to the stars”

Author: nhixxie


One day Cas says, “Stars died for you, Dean Winchester”, against ruffled hair perched atop sun kissed skin and sleepy eyes.

Dean stirs, moving to spread his palms against the contour of Cas’ back, tips of fingers languidly strumming the indentations of his spine. One, two, three, four, he counts, the closest he could get to scientifically studying the anatomy of the human body.

“Is this some physics crap again?” He frowns with eyes closed.

Cas smiles softly. “Far from it.”

Dean’s fingers play at the base of his back, ninth thoracic vertebrae, Cas notes.

“Then tell me all about it.”

My comments:  There are fics which keep you astonished by their beauty, even when you’ve finished reading them. This story is one of them. It’s impossible not to fall in love with this fic, how amazingly beautiful it’s written.

boys with collarbones (✿◠‿◠)

boys with clavicles (◕‿◕✿)

boys with spines (。♥‿♥。)

boys with patellas (≧◡≦)

boys with phalanges (◑‿◐)

boys with thoracic vertebrae (✿ ♥‿♥)