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Atlas - Inferior view of base of the skull

When looking at the inferior base of the skull, several important structures of the skull and bones of the skull are visible and distinguishable. The bones of the skull that can be seen from this inferior aspect include the maxilla, the zygomatic bones, the parietal bones, the sphenoid bone, the temporal bones and the occipital bone.

Starting from the anterior aspect, it is easy to see the zygomatic process of the maxilla, the hard palate which is formed by the horizontal plate of the palatine bone and the palatine process of the maxilla, the median and transverse palatine sutures, the lesser and greater palatine foramina and the incisive foramen.

Also visible are the vomer and sphenoid bone, which both articulate with the palatine bone. The sphenoid bone which is situated at the center of the skull, possesses both lateral and medial plates of the pterygoid process which are also visible from the inferior aspect, the pterygoid hamulus and the inferior orbital fissure which transmits the orbital vessels and nerves.

Other apertures visible from this inferior aspect include the carotid canal, the choanae, the pterygopalatine fissure, foramen lacerum, foramen ovale, foramen spinosum, the jugular foramen, the stylomastoid foramen, the mastoid foramen and foramen magnum which is the largest of all the apertures and transmits the spinal cord.

The mastoid processes of temporal bones can also be seen from the inferior base of the skull as well as the mastoid notch.

Other bony processes or protuberances seen on the outer surface of occipital bone include the attachment site for the nuchal ligament which is the external occipital crest, the inferior and superior nuchal lines which also provide muscle attachments, and the external occipital protuberance.

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