If you did actually get your head examined… I mean REALLY examined, you would find all sorts of interesting things! Your skull, which seems like one really big bone, actually consists of at least 22 bones (depending on how you count them – but that’s another story) which originally began as 44 separate bony elements during your fetal development. As an adult, these bones are not completely fused, but actually have joints between them which have some movement. This was more evident at the time of your birth, when some of your skull bones actually had to overlap each other in order to deliver your giant head. After you were born, these bones slid neatly back into place, and as you grew the soft joints between your skull bones became more rigid and fixed. All this to protect the most important piece of tissue you own… your brain. See, your brain is soft and spongy, and relatively delicate – but very important for your survival, so it has to be wrapped in a suit of armour. Sometimes this backfires though, because if your skull gets jostled around too much, your brain bounces around inside this hard shell causing injuries known as concussions. But as delicate and intricate as the brain is, it doesn’t actually have pain sensors. It’s the layers around the brain that feel pain.
At the base of your brain, some really important nerves called cranial nerves branch out and wind their way around to different parts of your head and neck. They become responsible for your five senses and control many of the muscles in your face and neck, allowing you to talk and do all sorts of other useful things. But all this goodness and intricacy packed into your melon makes it heavy, so you also need some strong muscles in your neck and upper back to keep it from flopping over.
Yes, your head is pretty fascinating indeed- and next week, I’ll talk about some of the things that can go wrong with it!