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vertebral column  the rigid bony structure in the midline of the back, composed of the vertebrae, usually 24 in number. It is the axis of the skeleton; the skull and limbs are in a sense appendages. The vertebrae also provide the protective bony corridor (spinal canal) through which the spinal cord passes; they can move to a certain extent and so give flexibility to the vertebral column, allowing it to bend forward, sideways and, to a lesser extent, backward. In the areas of the neck and lower back, the column can also pivot, which allows the turning of the head and trunk. Called also spine.




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