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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
▪ Backs include the pelvic bones and all the vertebrae posterior to the shoulder joint.
▪ But he suffered two fractured vertebrae in his neck and a broken lower back in a crash during practice two weeks ago.
▪ He crumpled to the ice with a shattered fourth cervical vertebra, his body paralyzed from the neck down.
▪ He danced around the area, shaking an Ascon, a gourd filled with snake vertebrae.
▪ I liked biology a lot more amoebas and vertebrae.
▪ In the summer of 1988 paleontologists in western Colorado uncovered the 135-million-year-old pelvis and vertebrae of Supersaurus.
▪ She was unaware that anyone had approached until she felt a touch on one of the vertebra of her spine.
▪ The vertebrae of the vertebral column are tightly interlocked, creating a rigid foundation for the tail muscles.
The Collaborative International Dictionary

Vertebra \Ver"te*bra\, n.; pl. Vertebr[ae]. [L. vertebra, fr. vertere to turn, change. See Verse.]

  1. (Anat.) One of the serial segments of the spinal column.

    Note: In many fishes the vertebr[ae] are simple cartilaginous disks or short cylinders, but in the higher vertebrates they are composed of many parts, and the vertebr[ae] in different portions of the same column vary very greatly. A well-developed vertebra usually consists of a more or less cylindrical and solid body, or centrum, which is surmounted dorsally by an arch, leaving an opening which forms a part of the canal containing the spinal cord. From this dorsal, or neural, arch spring various processes, or apophyses, which have received special names: a dorsal, or neural, spine, spinous process, or neurapophysis, on the middle of the arch; two anterior and two posterior articular processes, or zygapophyses; and one or two transverse processes on each side. In those vertebr[ae] which bear well-developed ribs, a tubercle near the end of the rib articulates at a tubercular facet on the transverse process (diapophysis), while the end, or head, of the rib articulates at a more ventral capitular facet which is sometimes developed into a second, or ventral, transverse process (parapophysis). In vertebrates with well-developed hind limbs, the spinal column is divided into five regions in each of which the vertebr[ae] are specially designated: those vertebr[ae] in front of, or anterior to, the first vertebra which bears ribs connected with the sternum are cervical; all those which bear ribs and are back of the cervicals are dorsal; the one or more directly supporting the pelvis are sacral and form the sacrum; those between the sacral and dorsal are lumbar; and all those back of the sacral are caudal, or coccygeal. In man there are seven cervical vertebr[ae], twelve dorsal, five lumbar, five sacral, and usually four, but sometimes five and rarely three, coccygeal.

  2. (Zo["o]l.) One of the central ossicles in each joint of the arms of an ophiuran.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

"bone of the spine," early 15c., from Latin vertebra "joint or articulation of the body, joint of the spine" (plural vertebræ), perhaps from vertere "to turn" (see versus) + instrumental suffix -bra. The notion would be the spine as the "hinge" of the body.


n. Any of the small bones which make up the backbone.

  1. n. one of the bony segments of the spinal column

  2. [also: vertebrae (pl)]

Vertebra (software)

Vertebra is a framework that aims to simplify writing applications in The Cloud written by Engine Yard.

Vertebra (disambiguation)

Vertebra may refer to:

  • Vertebra, a bone in the spinal column of a vertebrate animal
  • Vertebra (software), an environment for developing distributed software applications
  • Vertebrae (album), the album by Norwegian metal band Enslaved

In the vertebrate spinal column, each vertebra is an irregular bone with a complex structure composed of bone and some hyaline cartilage, the proportions of which vary according to the segment of the backbone and the species of vertebrate.

The basic configuration of a vertebra varies; the large part is the body, and the central part is the centrum. The upper and lower surfaces of the vertebra body give attachment to the intervertebral discs. The posterior part of a vertebra forms a vertebral arch, in eleven parts, consisting of two pedicles, two laminae, and seven processes. The laminae give attachment to the ligamenta flava (ligaments of the spine). There are vertebral notches formed from the shape of the pedicles, which form the intervertebral foramina when the vertebrae articulate. These foramina are the entry and exit conducts for the spinal nerves. The body of the vertebra and the vertebral arch form the vertebral foramen, the larger, central opening that accommodates the spinal canal, which encloses and protects the spinal cord.

Vertebrae articulate with each other to give strength and flexibility to the spinal column, and the shape at their back and front aspects determines the range of movement. Structurally, vertebrae are essentially alike across the vertebrate species, with the greatest difference seen between an aquatic animal and other vertebrate animals. As such, vertebrates take their name from the vertebrae that compose the vertebral column.

Usage examples of "vertebra".

Her vertebrae are beginning to crumble because of metastatic breast disease.

They exhibited a relatively short metatarsus, the pubis was directed backward, and they had long processes on the tail vertebrae, which stiffened the back half of the long tail.

With an overhand stroke he plunged his long-bladed knife between two vertebrae where they were outlined by loose-hanging skin.

I began to palpate the lumbar vertebrae, feeling my way along, watching for any sign of pain.

She stood up, leaned back on her hind feet, dug her foreclaws into the ground well in front of her, gave her vertebrae a thorough stretching, then recompacted herself and walked casually toward the Giants, her tail carried like a tall exclamation point over the round dot beneath.

Generally the first point of invasion is the cartilaginous substances between the bodies of the vertebrae, beginning with inflammation, and finally resulting in ulceration and a breaking-down of the cartilages.

The twins were united below the third sacral vertebrae in such a manner that they could lie alongside of each other.

In man the lumbar vertebrae have sometimes assumed the character of the sacral vertebrae, the sacral vertebrae presenting the aspect of lumbar vertebrae, etc.

Additional features distinguishing dinosaurs from other reptiles include: the division of the vertebral column into several regions, a long and mobile neck, and at least three sacral vertebrae in contact with the pelvis.

Characteristic of ornithischians are, among other skeletal features, the presence of ossified tendons along the vertebral column and the presence of at least five sacral vertebrae in contact with the pelvis.

But in addition to this brain there was a well-developed nerve centre in the region of the sacral vertebrae which was several times as large as the brain proper.

Because the heads of sauropod dinosaurs in particular were small and the first cervical vertebra also small and the cranio-cervical joint relatively weak, disarticulation by current action and scavengers was common.

Evolution increased the strength of the vertebrae, and reduced the amount of weight of the skeleton as sauropod vertebrae have a number of cavities and vertebral connections were reduced to slender rods and struts.

A sufficiently severe back and crosswise wrench of the head against the contraction of the anterior scalene usually tears or loosens the anterior tubercles of the fourth through the sixth vertebrae.

Then it dawned on him that the thing on the other side of the hedge was only a robed assemblage of ribs and femurs and vertebrae if viewed from one point of view but, if looked at slightly differently, was equally just a complexity of sparging arms and reciprocating levers that had been covered by a tarpaulin which was now blowing off.