Why Do Skulls Have So Many Bones? (It's Loads More Than You Think)

Live Science | 6/16/2019 | Staff
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How many bones are in your skull? You might guess that animal skulls are made up of two bones: the upper region of the skull and the lower jaw. But skulls are actually far more complex — and have a lot more bones — than you may expect.

Some animals have more individual bones in their skulls when they're young and growing, though these later fuse together. However, some animals retain dozens of skull bones through adulthood.

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Human - Skulls - Bones - Bones - Bones

Human skulls have 22 bones: 8 cranial bones and 14 facial bones, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). The forehead bone — a single bone called the frontal — is actually two separate bones in newborns that fuse as the baby grows.

By comparison, alligator skulls have around 53 bones. Researchers at the Witmer Lab at Ohio University recently demonstrated that astounding number with a photo of a disarticulated alligator skull that they shared on Twitter.

Fetuses - Bones - Mammals - Number - Bones

Mammal fetuses have approximately 43 bones that are developmentally distinct, "but some of them fuse as mammals grow," and the number of fused bones may differ among mammal groups, Jack Tseng, a functional anatomist at the University at Buffalo, told Live Science in an email.

"I would say that you could probably find marsupial species with close to that number of skull bones," Tseng said.

Number - Bones - Occurs - Fossil - Fish

The greatest number of skull bones by far — 156 — occurs in the fossil of an extinct fish, said Brian Sidlauskas, an associate professor and Curator of Fishes with the Department of Fisheries...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Live Science
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