Studying the Skull in Complete Anatomy

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The skull acts as a protective case for the brain and supports the structure of the face. In humans, there are 22 bones that make up the skull. 

The bones of the skull are divided into two groups: the neurocranium and the viscerocranium. The neurocranium consists of 8 bones and forms the cranial roof and base. These bones include the frontal, occipital, sphenoid and ethmoid bones as well as the paired temporal and parietal bones. 

The viscerocranium forms the facial skeleton and consists of 14 bones. These are the mandible and vomer as well as the paired inferior nasal conchae, maxilla, zygomatic, lacrimal, nasal and palatine bones. The mandible, or lower jaw bone, is the only bone in the skull that is movable via the temporomandibular joint.  

Within the bones of the skull are small openings called foramina. The foramina allow blood vessels, nerves and other structures to pass through the bones. For example, the mental foramen allows the mental branch of the inferior alveolar artery, the mental vein and the mental nerve to pass through the mandible.  

You can use the Explode Tool in Complete Anatomy to see how the bones of the skull fit together like puzzle pieces. To do so, simply follow these steps: 

⒈ Click on any bone of the skull. 

⒉ Select “HEAD” in the breadcrumb trail at the top of your screen. 

⒊ Click the “Explode” button on the left of your screen. This explodes, or pulls apart, all the bones of the skull. 

⒋ You can also click “Assemble” in the top left-hand corner of your screen to see the bones fit back together.