Major Bones of the Skull: Names and Location

Chapter 17 / Lesson 2
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  • 0:43 Sphenoid Bone
  • 1:20 Ethmoid Bone
  • 1:38 Frontal & Occipital Bones
  • 2:19 Temporal & Parietal Bones
  • 3:03 Paired vs. Unpaired Bones
  • 3:37 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem is a doctor of veterinary medicine and has taught science and medicine at the college level.

Your eyeballs, ear and brain all depend on skull bones to give them a place to live. These bones include the frontal, parietal, occipital, temporal, sphenoid and ethmoid bone. Review these bones and their purposes in this lesson.

Bones of the Skull

The bones that make up the skull
Skull Bones

I've been called a bird brain before. I like to imagine that it's not because I'm stupid, but because my brain is like a bird's egg.

What I mean is your skull contains your noggin (the egg), the thing that helps you think, move your body and interpret the image on your screen. The skull (or eggshell) is there to help protect your brain and, therefore, your life. However, it's not one single entity. In fact, your skull is made of six unique bones fused together to make a container for your brain, eyes and even ears!

The Sphenoid Bone

A long time ago, when the first budding anatomists wanted to learn about the brain, they would have had to have peeled off (or maybe cracked off, to be more precise) the bones of the skull in order to reveal the magical brain encased within it. Like peeling the shell off of an egg, the bones don't come off all at once but, rather, in pieces.

One of these pieces is called the sphenoid bone. This is an unpaired skull bone that helps to make up part of the orbit of the eye and houses the pituitary gland.

The Ethmoid Bone

After taking off the first bit of our egg shell - the sphenoid bone - we can peel off the ethmoid bone. This is an unpaired skull bone that makes up one part of the orbit of the eye, separates the nasal cavity from the brain and is the bone located deepest within the head.

The Frontal Bone

The temporal bones are one of two sets of paired skull bones
Temporal Bones

If you were surprised that it's the deepest bone within our head, you probably wrinkled your forehead in amusement. The unpaired skull bone that helps to make up the forehead and the orbit of the eye is appropriately called the frontal bone, as it is at the very front of your skull.

The Occipital Bone

While the frontal bone helps to make up the front-top portion of your skull, directly opposite that, at the back and bottom of your skull, is an unpaired skull bone that contains a hole (called the foramen magnum), which allows for the connection of the brain to the spinal cord. We call this bone the occipital bone.

The Temporal Bones

While all of the bones we've covered thus far have been unpaired, the temporal bones are a paired set of skull bones located on either side of the head that encase the middle and inner ear. It's easy to locate them on yourself; just touch your finger to your temple, and you'll feel the temporal bone underneath.

The Parietal Bones

Like our temporal bones, the parietal bones are also a paired set of skull bones that form the roof of and part of the sides of the skull. Once we peel this final layer off, we'll finally be able to see the entire egg...I mean brain, encased within our skull.

Paired vs. Unpaired Bones

The four unpaired bones of the skull
Unpaired Skull Bones

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