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The vertebral column is the scientific, anatomical word for the spine or backbone. It is a column of vertebrae in the back part of the torso (upper body). There is a canal that runs through the length of the backbone. Inside this canal is the spinal cord. Animals, including humans, that have a vertebral column are called vertebrates, and animals that don't have one are called invertebrates.
The vertebral column is divided by doctors into 5 sections called regions. These 5 regions from top to bottom are:
- Cervical - Shown in red, this region supports the head. It is made up of 7 vertebrae. The first two, called the atlas and axis, connect the spine to the skull.
- Thoracic - Shown in blue, this region supports the ribs. It is made up of 12 vertebrae.
- Lumbar - Shown in yellow, this region is located in the lower back. It is made up of 5 vertebrae.
- Sacral - Shown in green. It is made up of 5 vertebrae that are fused together.
- Coccygeal - Shown in purple. It is made up of 3 to 5 vertebrae.
- Gray's Anatomy: The Vertebral Column - The 1917 Gray's Anatomy is available via the Bartleby project. It is available with full colour diagrams. The initial version of this article was copied and pasted from the 1917 Gray's anatomy, which is in the public domain.