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5 Surprising Facts About the Spine You Never Knew

The spine is a very important internal structure of the human body. This complex collection of vertebrae, ligaments, and spinal discs seamlessly act as one single unit in order to support our natural anatomical makeup. The spine, also known as the backbone, is the central framework upon which the body is constructed around. Without spine, we’d have absolutely no support for any coordinated movement. Since we’re not actually a spineless species, the backbone allows for regular and efficient instinctual function. The spine is an amazing feature of the human body, to say the least. However, as much as you may know how it works, it holds a lot of secrets and interesting facts that often go unrecognized. Here are 5 surprising facts about the spine that you never knew so you can learn a little more about how unique your body really is!

Surprising Facts About the Spine

1. What Do Humans and Giraffes Have in Common?

It’s a strange comparison, but believe it or not giraffes and humans have exactly the same number of vertebrae in their necks. If you were to guess the lucky number 7 then you’re right! It’s incredible how nature works; isn’t it?

2. The Spine Has How Many Parts?

The structure of the human backbone is incredibly complex when you break it down. Aside from 33 individual bones, the spine contains exactly 120 muscles and 100 joints connected by 220 different ligaments.

3. Disappearing Vertebrae?

When we become full-grown adults, we have 26 fully functioning vertebrae. Strangely enough, we have 33 in infancy. As we develop from babies to adulthood the 9 missing vertebrae actually fuse to create our tailbone and the back portion of the pelvis.

4. We’re All Little Taller in Outer Space

Let’s say for example you got the wonderful opportunity to take a trip to the moon in the near future. You’ll not only get to experience a once in a lifetime moonwalk, but you grow a few inches too! In outer space, astronauts who return to Earth are reported to have grown 1.5 to 2 inches in height during their space travel. This occurs because of the absence of gravity and its inability of affecting the cartilage in the vertebral discs as they do on Earth. The spine expands in ways that aren’t totally “Earthly,” so to speak. This effect is short-lived though as upon return to earth, the height returns to normal after a few months.

5. Your Vertebrae, The Greek Titan

Greek mythology is a popular topic of interest for many around the world. Only true experts will know that the human body has an interesting relation to the mythological being named Atlas. This Greek Titan was famously turned to stone and banished by Zeus. After losing a pivotal battle, Atlas was forced to bear the weight of the Earth and Heavens on his back and shoulders. For mortal humans, the first vertebra under the skull is called Atlas, in reference and acknowledgment of the Titan. This body part received its title due to the cervical vertebrae’s job of carrying the total weight of the head.