Table Summarizing Key Features of Cranial and Facial Bones

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Table Summarizing Key Features of Cranial and Facial Bones




Function(s) - of specific bones/features

General Features
(of skeletal structure of head)






Definition: The cavity (cavities) in the skull that contain the eye(s).
These cavities are formed from parts of the following bones (also mentioned below): frontal, ethmoid, lacrimal, maxillary, palatine, sphenoid, and zygomatic.

Mechanical protection of the sensitive structures of the eye(s), including the eye balls themselves, together with the associated muscles, nerves, blood supply, and other tissues.


Paranasal Sinuses

Definition: air-filled cavities lined with mucous membranes located within some skull bones.
Paranasal sinuses include: frontal sinuses and maxillary sinuses (one pair of each); ethmoid sinuses (many spaces inside the ethmoid bone); two sphenoid sinuses.
These are named after the bones in which they are located - see diagram for positions of bones.

Producing mucus;
Acting as resonating chambers - resulting in personal speaking and singing sounds that differ from person to person.
draining mucus out of the skull via the nasal cavities as necessary (e.g. in case of over-production of mucus).



Definition: The word "suture" has meanings in both anatomy and surgery. In the context of anatomy, a 'suture' is a type of immovable joint found only between skull bones and consisting of a small amount of connective tissue between the bones.
There are several of these joints in the skull, examples include: Coronal Suture (between frontal and parietal bones); Lamboidal Suture (between the parietal and occipital bones); and Sagittal Suture (between the two parietal bones).

These joints hold the bones of the skull together.




Bones of the Cranium






Floor of the cranium, inferior to the frontal bone and anterior to the sphenoid.
Non-technically: Centre of the face, behind the nose.

Forms part of the nasal cavity and the orbits.
Main support structure of the nasal cavity



Forehead, extending down to form the upper surfaces of the orbits. Anterior roof of the skull.




Back and base of the cranium, forms the back of the skull.
Non-technically: Lower back of the head.

The occipital condyles (rounded surfaces at the base of the occipital bone) articulate with the atlas (first vertebra of the spine), enabling movement of the head relative to the spine.
Has a large opening called the Foramen Magnus which the spinal cord passes through.



Top and sides of the cranium, posterior roof of the skull.




Anterior to the temporal bones and forms the base of cranium - behind the orbitals.
Consists of a body, two "wings" and two "pterygoid processes" that project downwards.

Articulates with the frontal, parietal and temporal bones.



Sides of the skull, below the parietal bones, and above and behind the ears


Bones of the Face



In the neck, below the tongue (held in place by ligaments and muscles between it and the styloid process of the temporal bone).

Supports the tongue, providing attachment sites for some tongue muscles, and also some muscles of the neck and pharynx.
(Commonly fractured during strangulation, so studied in autopsies if strangulation suspected.)



Behind and lateral to the nasal bone, also contribute to the orbits.
(Smallest bones in the face.)

Contain foramina for the nasolacrimal ducts (tear ducts).



Known as the lower jaw bone. Also forms the chin and sides of the face.
(Largest, strongest facial bone.)

Bone into which the lower teeth are attached.
The only moveable facial bone; motion of this bone is necessary for chewing food (the first stage of the digestion process).
Each side of the mandible has a condyle and a coronoid process. The condyle articulates with the temporal bone to form the temporomandibular joint.



Upper jaw bone, which also forms the lower parts of the orbits.

Bone into which the upper teeth are attached.
Each maxilla contains a maxillary sinus that drains fluid into the nasal cavity.



Pair of small oblong bones that form the bridge and roof of the nose.




Back of the roof of the mouth /Small "L-shaped" bones (not pictured)

Form the bottom of the orbitals and nasal cavities, and also the roof of the mouth.



Also known as Turbinate Bone and Nasal Concha. These terms refer to any of three thin bones that form the sides of the nasal cavity

Form the nasal cavities.



Thin roughly triangular plate of bone on the floor of the nasal cavity and part of the nasal septum.

Separates the nasal cavities into left and right sides.



Also known as Zygoma and Malar Bone.
Commonly (non-medically) referred to as the
Cheek Bone because it forms the prominent part of the cheeks. Also contributes to the orbits.

Articulates with the frontal, maxilla, sphenoid and temporal bones.

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