Dinosaurs Inside and Out

Growing Bones

What is the axial skeleton?

The axial skeleton is one of the two sections of the entire dinosaur skeleton. It is made up of the trunk, spine, and tail, essentially forming the “foundation” to which the animal’s limbs and skull were attached. In other words, it includes the so-called “backbone” of the dinosaur and the ribs. The backbone (or vertebral column) is divided into four segments: the neck (cervical), the back (dorsal), hip (sacral), and the tail (caudal). It included numerous individual bones known as vertebrae. The ribs were long, narrow bones attached to the vertebrae of the cervical and dorsal segments. These were paired bones—one on each side of the backbone—and extended downward to protect the internal organs. They included the neck ribs and the belly ribs (gastralia, or the bones that protected the digestive tract and other internal organs).


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