3D Skeletal System: 7 Interesting Facts about the Thoracic Cage

We spend a lot of time kicking around the office, discussing anatomy and fighting about which structures are the coolest. We all know how I feel about the pelvic girdle, but the thoracic cage comes in at a close second.

The thoracic cage is an interesting structure designed to protect some of the most important organs in your body. Keep reading to find out just how the thoracic cage is structured to make you keep on keepin' on!

Did you know?
The thoracic cage is part of the axial skeleton, which also includes the laryngeal skeleton, vertebral column, and skull!

1. The thoracic cage is conical in shape—narrow above and broad below. This is what helps give your upper body shape.

thoracic-cage-anterior-ribsImage from Human Anatomy Atlas

2. Run your hands down the back of your ribs. Can you feel the shape of the cage? It is relatively flat; the anterior part of the cage is noticeably curved to accommodate organs within it.

Image from Human Anatomy Atlas.  

3. If you look at the cage in the transverse inferior, you will notice it is shaped somewhat like a kidney. 

Image from Human Anatomy Atlas

4. Its kidney-like shape is ideal for protecting the heart and lungs. Look how neatly they fit inside. 

Image from Human Anatomy Atlas

5. The costal cartilage are fibrous tissues that allow for the expansion of the thoracic cage. The thoracic cage expands during inspiration.

Image from Human Anatomy Atlas

6. The 12 ribs that form the cage are uniquely shaped. Most have a head (articulates with the bodies of the vertebrae), a neck (flattened section of bone), and a shaft (serves as the attachment site for several muscles).

Image from Human Anatomy Atlas

7. The shape of the head is ideal for articulating with the vertebrae. 

Image from Human Anatomy Atlas

Explore the thoracic cage!

Watch the video to see the thoracic cage from all angles and explore a rib! 

Video footage from Human Anatomy Atlas

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Related Posts:

3D Skeletal System: Atlas, Axis, and the Atlanto-Axial Relationship

3D Skeletal System: Function of the Sphenoid

3D Skeletal System: The Pelvic Girdle

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