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The article on the skull and skull bones in human body provides readers with a detailed and effective understanding of the structures, functions, and developmental aspects of these vital skeletal elements including:

Introduction to Skull Bones

The article skull and skull bones in human body explore the comprehensive guide to the anatomy and significance of the skull and its bones in the human body. The skull is a vital structure that encompasses and protects the brain, serving as the main framework of the head. It plays a crucial role in safeguarding the delicate organs within the cranial cavity.

Let’s learn about the skull bones, divided into two parts, i.e., cranial bones and facial bones.

Anatomy of the Skull

Major Skull Bones
Major Skull Bone with Parts

Bones can be classified into different categories based on their shapes and functions. These bones are divided into two types:

Cranial Bones

The skull is made up of eight cranial bones. Each of these bones plays a unique role in providing stability, protection, and functionality to the skull, and these bones are:

1. Ethmoid Bone

The ethmoid bone is located between the eye sockets and contributes to the structure of the nasal cavity. It consists of a delicate, spongy bone structure that forms the lateral walls of the nasal cavity and houses the ethmoid sinuses.

2. Frontal Bone

The frontal bone forms the forehead and the upper part of the eye sockets. It protects the frontal lobes of the brain and gives the face its characteristic shape.

3. Occipital Bone

It is situated at the back of the skull. And it forms the base of the cranium (the protective bony structure that encloses and supports the brain in the human skull). It has a large opening called the foramen magnum through which the spinal cord passes.

4. Parietal Bones

The parietal bones form the upper sides and roof of the skull. They meet at the midline of the skull and contribute to the overall structure and strength of the cranium.

5. Sphenoid Bone

It is located at the base of the skull. Just near the middle. The sphenoid bone contains several important landmarks, including:

a. Important Landmarks of the Sphenoid Bone
  • Sella Turcica: This bony saddle-shaped structure within the sphenoid bone houses the pituitary gland, a vital gland responsible for hormone regulation.
  • Greater Wings: The greater wings extend laterally from the sphenoid body and contribute to the sides of the skull. They also provide attachment sites for various muscles involved in chewing and jaw movement.
  • Lesser Wings: The lesser wings are smaller extensions of the sphenoid bone that lie superior to the greater wings. They help form the anterior part of the middle cranial fossa. And it provides support to the frontal lobes of the brain.
  • Optic Foramen: This opening in the sphenoid bone allows the optic nerve to pass from the eye to the brain, facilitating vision.

6. Temporal Bones

The temporal bones are located on the sides and base of the skull, adjacent to the temples. They house important structures such as the middle and inner ear. Let’s explore some significant landmarks of the temporal bones:

a. Important Landmarks of the Temporal Bones
  • External Auditory Canal: This canal leads from the outer ear to the middle ear and plays a crucial role in transmitting sound waves.
  • Mastoid Process: The mastoid process is a prominent bony projection located behind the ear. It serves as an attachment site for certain neck muscles and provides space for air cells that help regulate ear pressure.
  • Styloid Process: The styloid process is a slender, pointed projection that extends downward from the temporal bone. It serves as an attachment point for multiple muscles and ligaments in the neck region.

Facial Bones

The human face is a complex structure composed of several bones that provide support, protection, and functionality. Understanding these facial bones and their important landmarks is essential for comprehending the anatomy of the face, and those bones are:

1. Inferior Nasal Concha

The inferior nasal concha, also known as the inferior turbinate, is a curved bone located inside the nasal cavity. It is one of three conchae (plural of concha) present in each nasal cavity, alongside the superior and middle nasal conchae. The inferior nasal concha helps to filter, humidify, and warm the inhaled air as it passes through the nasal passages. It also plays a role in directing airflow within the nasal cavity.

2. Lacrimal Bone

The lacrimal bone is a small, delicate bone located at the inner corner of each eye, between the maxilla (upper jawbone) and the ethmoid bone (a bone of the skull). It forms a part of the orbit (eye socket) and houses the lacrimal sac, which collects tears from the surface of the eye and drains them into the nasal cavity. The lacrimal bone also contributes to the overall structure and stability of the face.

3. Mandible

The mandible, commonly referred to as the jawbone, is the largest and strongest facial bone. It forms the lower jaw and is responsible for crucial functions such as biting, chewing, and speaking. The mandible consists of a horseshoe-shaped body, two vertical branches (rami), and a central horizontal portion called the mandibular symphysis. It also houses the lower teeth and articulates with the temporal bones of the skull, enabling movement of the jaw. Let’s see the landmarks:

a. Important Landmarks of the Mandible
  • Mandibular Condyle: Located at the upper end of each ramus, the condyles articulate with the temporal bones, forming the temporomandibular joints (TMJ) that facilitate jaw movement.
  • Coronoid Process: Situated anteriorly to the condyle, the coronoid process serves as a site for muscle attachment, allowing for jaw movement during biting and chewing.
  • Mandibular Notch: Positioned between the condyle and the coronoid process, the mandibular notch provides space for blood vessels and nerves to pass through.
  • Mental Foramen: Located on the front surface of the mandible, near the premolar teeth, the mental foramen allows for the passage of nerves and blood vessels supplying the lower lip and chin.

4. Maxilla

The maxilla is a paired bone that forms the upper jawbone and contributes to the structure of the face. It consists of two main portions: the horizontal maxillary body and the vertical maxillary sinus. The maxilla contains sockets (alveoli) to hold the upper teeth, and it also forms part of the floor of the orbits, the sides and base of the nasal cavity, and the roof of the mouth (hard palate).

5. Nasal Bones

The nasal bones are two small oblong bones that form the bridge of the nose. They are located between the frontal bone (forehead) and the maxilla (upper jawbone). The nasal bones provide support and contribute to the overall shape and structure of the nose.

6. Palatine Bones

The palatine bones are a pair of L-shaped bones located at the back of the nasal cavity, behind the maxilla. They contribute to the formation of the hard palate (roof of the mouth) and the posterior part of the nasal cavity. The palatine bones also play a role in supporting the floor of the orbits.

7. Vomer

The vomer is a thin, flat bone located in the midline of the nasal cavity, between the maxilla and the ethmoid bone. It forms the inferior portion of the nasal septum, which divides the nasal cavity into left and right sides. The vomer helps to provide stability and support to the nasal septum.

8. Zygomatic Bones

The zygomatic bones, also known as the cheekbones, are paired bones that contribute to the prominence and contour of the cheeks. Each bone consists of two parts→ the temporal process (connects zygomatic to temporal) and the maxillary process (connects zygomatic to maxilla). The zygomatic bones also contribute to the formation of the outer wall and floor of the orbits.

In this part, we will discuss the sutures of the skull, such as coronal sutures, sagittal sutures, lambdoid sutures, and squamous sutures.

Sutures of the Skull

Sutures of the skull
Sutures of the skull with types

These are fibrous joints that connect the cranial bones, including the sagittal, coronal, lambdoid, and squamosal sutures. These are:

Coronal Suture

It is a dense, fibrous joint that connects the frontal bone (front of the skull) with the parietal bones (sides of the skull). It runs horizontally across the top of the head, like a crown. The Coronal Suture is easily visible in babies as the soft spot known as the anterior fontanelle, which gradually closes as they grow older.

Sagittal Suture

The Sagittal Suture is another dense, fibrous joint that runs along the midline of the skull, from the front (where the Coronal Suture is located) to the back. It connects the two parietal bones and is perpendicular to the Coronal Suture. The Sagittal Suture plays a crucial role in allowing the skull to grow and expand during childhood.

Lambdoid Suture

The Lambdoid Suture is located at the back of the skull and resembles an upside-down “V” shape or a lambda (hence its name). It connects the occipital bone (base and back of the skull) with the parietal bones on both sides. The Lambdoid Suture is significant because it helps stabilize the posterior part of the skull and contributes to its overall strength.

Squamous Suture

Squamous suture is a joint, which joins the temporal bone with the parietal bone. It is called “squamous” because of its scale-like appearance. It is situated between the temporal and parietal bones. And can be seen on the side of the head, which extends from the ear towards the top of the skull.

Now, we will discuss the function and importance of the human skull.

Functions and Importance of the Human Skull

Human skull is a remarkable structure that serves crucial functions in protecting the brain and supporting various sensory organs. 

These functions are:

Protection of the Brain

The skull of human body serves as a tough and durable protective structure for the brain. It is one of the most vital organs in our body. It acts like a tough helmet, shielding the brain from external forces and potential injuries. The skull’s hard and solid bone structure helps absorb and distribute the impact of any physical trauma or blows to the head, reducing the risk of damage to the brain.

Support and Attachment for Muscles

The skull provides a framework for various muscles in the head and neck region. It serves as a solid foundation for muscles responsible for chewing, talking, and making facial expressions. The mandible (lower jaw) is attached to the skull, allowing movements required for biting and chewing food. Additionally, muscles responsible for eye movements and controlling the neck’s motion find anchor points on the skull, enabling precise control and coordination.

Sensory Organs and Facial Structure

The skull houses and protects several sensory organs critical for our senses and facial structure. It forms the protective bony orbits that cradle the eyes, safeguarding them from potential injuries. The skull also encases the nasal cavity, which plays a crucial role in breathing and olfaction (sense of smell). Moreover, it provides structural support for the complex framework of the ears, including the external ear (pinna) and the bony middle ear, which houses the delicate mechanisms responsible for hearing.

The skull’s configuration and bone structure determine the overall shape and appearance of an individual’s face. It contributes to the uniqueness of a person’s facial features.

Development and Growth

The human skull undergoes significant development and growth during an individual’s early stages of life. In infants and children, the skull bones are not fully fused, allowing for flexibility and accommodating the rapid growth of the brain. This flexibility is crucial for the baby’s head to pass through the birth canal during childbirth.

As a child grows, the skull bones gradually fuse forming a solid structure by adulthood. The growth and development of the skull are influenced by various factors. It includes→ genetic factors, nutrition, and overall health. Proper development of the skull is essential for the normal growth and function of the brain and sensory organs.

Now, we will talk about the fascinating process of skull development.

Skull Development

The development of the human skull is a fascinating process that begins during embryonic development and continues through infancy, childhood, and adolescence. It goes through a series of processes:

Embryonic Development

During embryonic development, the skull originates from specialized cells called mesenchyme. The mesenchyme differentiates into two main types of cells. One is osteoblasts (form bone) and the other is chondrocytes (form cartilage). The process of skull formation involves several intricate steps, which can be summarized as follows:

1. Formation of Cranial Bones

The cranial bones are primarily derived from mesenchymal condensations that develop around the brain. These condensations undergo ossification, which is the process of replacing the cartilage template with bone tissue. The major cranial bones, includes→ frontal, parietal, temporal, and occipital bones. It gradually forms through this ossification process.

2. Cranial Sutures

Cranial sutures are fibrous joints that connect the different cranial bones. They play a crucial role in skull development by allowing for growth and accommodating the expanding brain. The primary cranial sutures include the sagittal, coronal, lambdoid, and squamous sutures.


Fontanelles, also known as “soft spots,” are regions of connective tissue between the cranial bones in infants. These flexible areas allow for the compression and expansion of the skull during childbirth and accommodate rapid brain growth in early infancy. Here are the main types of fontanelles and their characteristics:

  1. Anterior Fontanelle: Located at the junction of the frontal and parietal bones, the anterior fontanelle is the largest fontanelle and remains open until approximately 18-24 months of age. It allows for skull moulding during childbirth and facilitates brain growth in the first years of life.
  1. Posterior Fontanelle: The posterior fontanelle is situated at the intersection of the parietal and occipital bones. It is smaller than the anterior fontanelle and typically closes within a few months after birth.
  1. Sphenoidal and Mastoid Fontanelles: These fontanelles are smaller and less prominent than the anterior and posterior fontanelles. They are found at the junctions of the cranial bones and serve as additional sites for growth and flexibility.

Skull Growth and Maturation

Skull growth and maturation continue throughout childhood and adolescence. The process involves a combination of bone growth, reshaping, and fusion. The aspects of skull growth and maturation include:

  1. Brain Growth: Skull growth is closely linked to brain growth. As the brain expands, the cranial bones accommodate its increasing size through controlled bone growth at the sutures.
  2. Facial Skeleton Development: The development of the facial skeleton, includes→ the maxilla, mandible, and other facial bones. It contributes to the overall maturation of the skull. These structures undergo growth and remodelling, shaping the appearance of the face.

Let’s learn about skull abnormalities and disorders, which include craniosynostosis, skull fractures and skull deformities.

Skull Abnormalities and Disorders 

It can arise from various conditions, affecting the shape, structure, and functionality of the skull.  These are:


Deformed skull of an infant
Deformed skull of an infant

It is a condition characterized by the premature fusion of one or more sutures (the fibrous joints between the bones) in an infant’s skull. The fusion restricts normal skull growth, leading to an abnormal head shape and potential neurological complications.


It occurs due to→ genetic mutations, environmental factors, or a combination of both. Some cases are sporadic, while others may have a familial or syndromic association.


There are different types of craniosynostosis, depending on which sutures are affected. These include-

  1. Sagittal Craniosynostosis: Fusion of the sagittal suture, resulting in a long, narrow head shape (scaphocephaly).
  2. Coronal Craniosynostosis: Fusion of one or both coronal sutures, causing an asymmetrical head shape (plagiocephaly).
  3. Metopic Craniosynostosis: Fusion of the metopic suture, leading to a triangular-shaped forehead (trigonocephaly).
  4. Lambdoid Craniosynostosis: Fusion of the lambdoid suture, resulting in a flattened or twisted head shape (posterior plagiocephaly).


Signs of craniosynostosis can include an abnormal head shape, raised ridges along the affected sutures, a soft spot (fontanelle) that closes early or is absent, developmental delays, and increased intracranial pressure.

Diagnosis and Treatment

It involves→ a physical examination, imaging studies (such as X-rays, CT scans, or MRI), and genetic testing. Treatment options may include observation, helmet therapy to correct head shape, or surgery to release the fused sutures and reshape the skull. The approach depends on the severity of the condition and associated symptoms.

Skull Fractures

Skull Fractures
Skull Fractures

It occur when one or more bones in the skull break. They can range from mild hairline fractures to severe fractures that penetrate the skull and affect brain tissue.


Various causes, such as→ falls, sports injuries, motor vehicle accidents, physical assaults, or other traumatic events.


Skull fractures are classified based on the location and pattern of the fracture. Common types include linear fractures (a simple crack in the bone), depressed fractures (when a fragment of the skull is pushed inward), and basilar fractures (involving the base of the skull).


Signs and symptoms include→ pain at the site of the injury, swelling, bruising, bleeding from the nose or ears, difficulty with balance or coordination, headache, nausea, and changes in vision or hearing.

Diagnosis and Treatment

It involves→ a physical examination, imaging studies, and neurological assessments. Treatment options depend on the severity and location of the fracture, ranging from observation and pain management to surgical intervention to repair the skull and address any underlying brain injury.

Skull Deformities

Skull deformities refer to abnormal shapes or structures of the skull, often present from birth or develop during infancy.


Skull deformities can occur due to various factors, including genetic predisposition, positioning in the womb, multiple births (e.g., twins), prolonged pressure on the head, or certain medical conditions.


Skull deformities can manifest in different ways, such as

  1. Positional Plagiocephaly: An asymmetrical head shape resulting from prolonged pressure on one side of the skull.
  2.  Brachycephaly: A flattened back of the head, often caused by sleeping in a supine position.
  3. Dolichocephaly: An elongated head shape, usually due to persistent pressure on the back of the skull.
  4. Scaphocephaly: A long, narrow head shape resulting from premature fusion of the sagittal suture.


It includes an abnormal head shape, uneven features, facial asymmetry, and potential complications in the development of the skull and brain.

Now, we will talk about the diagnostic techniques and treatments that must be taken, if there is any symptom of skull abnormality.

Diagnosis and Treatment

It involves a physical examination, and assessment of the head shape, and may include imaging studies. Treatment options may include repositioning techniques, helmet therapy to promote proper skull growth, or, in rare cases, corrective surgery.

Some skull imaging techniques include as follows

Skull Imaging Technique


X-ray imaging is a commonly used technique to examine the skull. It involves taking a series of pictures using low levels of radiation. X-rays can help identify fractures, tumours, or abnormalities in the bones of the skull. The images produced by X-rays appear as black and white images, with bones appearing white and soft tissues appearing darker.

Computed Tomography (CT)

Doctor analysis of CT scan
Doctor analysis of CT scan

CT scans use a combination of X-rays and computer technology to create detailed images of the skull. During a CT scan, a narrow beam of X-rays rotates around the head, capturing multiple cross-sectional images. These images are then processed by a computer to generate a three-dimensional view. CT scans are useful for evaluating skull fractures, brain tumours, bleeding, and other conditions that require precise anatomical detail.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

MRI uses a powerful magnetic field and radio waves to create detailed images of the skull and its internal structures. It does not involve radiation. During an MRI, the patient lies inside a large, cylindrical machine that produces a magnetic field. The machine detects the response of different tissues in the body to the magnetic field and generates highly detailed images. MRI is particularly helpful in assessing brain tumours, strokes, multiple sclerosis, and other soft tissue abnormalities.


Ultrasonography is a non-invasive imaging technique. It uses high-frequency sound waves, to produce images of the skull. It is commonly used for imaging fetal development during pregnancy but can also be used for certain skull examinations. During an ultrasound, a handheld device called a transducer is placed on the skin and emits sound waves. The echoes produced by the sound waves bouncing off the skull are converted into images. Ultrasound is safe, portable, and can be used to assess skull abnormalities in infants and certain conditions in adults.

Without knowing, we have reached the end of the article. So, let’s recap what we have learnt.


In conclusion, the skull and skull bones in human body is a remarkable and intricate structure that plays a vital role in the human body. It consists of cranial bones and facial bones, each with its unique functions and landmarks. The cranial bones, includes→ ethmoid, frontal, occipital, parietal, sphenoid, and temporal bones. These all provides→ protection for the brain, support for muscles, and house sensory organs.

The facial bones, such as the inferior nasal concha, lacrimal bone, mandible, maxilla, nasal bones, palatine bones, vomer, and zygomatic bones, contribute to the structure and functionality of the face, supporting functions like breathing, chewing, and speaking. Skull sutures, including the coronal, sagittal, lambdoid, and squamous sutures, provide flexibility and accommodate skull growth, playing a crucial role in shaping and stabilizing the skull.

The human skull serves essential functions, protecting the brain, providing a foundation for muscle attachment, housing sensory organs, and contributing to unique facial structures. Skull development involves ossification, fontanelles, and gradual fusion of bones during growth.

Various imaging techniques enable the visualization and evaluation of the skull’s internal structures and potential abnormalities or disorders.

Understanding the skull’s anatomy, development, and importance provides valuable insights into the complex mechanisms of the human body. It highlights the significance of protecting the brain, maintaining proper growth and development, and detecting and treating skull abnormalities and disorders. By learning about the skull, we can appreciate its remarkable design and the important role it plays in our overall health and well-being.

Further Reading

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