Facial skeleton

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Facial bones
Illu facial bones.jpg
Facial bones
The skull from the front.
Latin ossa faciei, ossa facialia
Gray's p.156
Facial bones
TA A02.1.00.008
FMA FMA:53673
Anatomical terms of bone

The facial skeleton, splanchnocranium or viscerocranium consists of a part of the skull that is derived from branchial arches. The facial bones are the bones of the anterior and lower skull. The other, dorsal part of the skull is the neurocranium.

Human facial bones[edit]

For the human skull, most sources include at least these fourteen bones in their lists of facial bones:[1][2]


The hyoid bone is sometimes included, and sometimes excluded. The ethmoid bone (or a part of it) is sometimes included, but otherwise considered part of the neurocranium; the same is the case with the sphenoid bone. Some sources describe the maxilla's left and right parts as two bones. Likewise, the palatine bone is also sometimes described as two bones.

Anatomical textbooks differ in what bones they include in their enumerations of the bones of the facial skeleton. Some textbooks make a strict distinction between bones of the neurocranium and viscerocranium, primarily based on the respective bones' embryological origins. Other textbooks are more lenient, maybe in an effort to provide more context or be more comprehensive, and tend to include all the bones that can be seen in a frontal aspect of the human skull in their enumerations of the facial bones; consequently they include bones such as the frontal bone, etc. in their lists, as is also evident in the illustrations on this page.[3]

More images with facial bones[edit]

Embryonic origins[edit]

The splanchnocranium is derived from the neural crest cells (also responsible for the development of the neurocranium, teeth and adrenal medulla) or from the sclerotome which derives from the somite block of the mesoderm. As with the neurocranium, in Chondricthyes and other cartilaginous vertebrates, they are not replaced via endochondral ossification. In tetrapods, such as amphibians and reptiles, the columella connecting to the tympanum is derived from the splanchnocranium. In mammals, the splanchnocranium derives the bones of the middle ear, the malleus, the incus and stapes.


  1. ^ Skeletal System / Divisions of the Skeleton
  2. ^ facial+bone - Definition from Merriam-Webster's Medical Dictionary
  3. ^ Obviously such differences will affect the total bone count of the facial skeleton, but it should be kept in mind that these are only differences in how to classify and/or describe the anatomy of the skull, and that regardless of what classification/description is preferred, the anatomy remains the same. NB: Students of human anatomy are well advised to determine which classification is taught by their lecturers, as deviations from their examiners' preferred classifications may well be deemed incorrect.

External links[edit]