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Rib cage facts for kids

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Rib cage
The human rib cage. (Source: Gray's Anatomy of the Human Body, 20th ed. 1918.)
Poirier 1896 II Angéiologie 336.png
Projection on the rib cage of the heart, lungs and diaphragm. The shaded areas indicate the extent of the pleural cavities not filled by the lungs.
Latin cavea thoracis

The ribcage is a part of the skeleton of humans and some animals. It is made up of curved bones called ribs. The rib cage is found in the chest area.

It protects a person's internal organs from damage.

Most humans have 12 pairs of rib bones with one from each pair on each side of the chest. Some people may have 11 or 13 pairs of rib bones. The bones are also filled with bone marrow.

The bones that are connected to the sternum directly are called true ribs, and the bones that are connected to the sternum indirectly, through the seventh bone, are called false ribs (eighth, ninth, and tenth bones), and the bones which are not connected to the sternum, and is connected to the back bone, are called floating ribs.

If these floating ribs were connected to the sternum, we could not breathe properly, as the chest needs space to expand and decrease. The rib cage is also called the thoracic cavity.

The rib cage has a major function in the respiratory system.


Human rib cage -CT scan (parallel projection (left) and perspective projection (right)).

Ribs are described based on their location and connection with the sternum. All ribs are attached behind to the thoracic vertebrae and are numbered accordingly one to twelve. Ribs that articulate directly with the sternum are called true ribs, whereas those that connect indirectly via cartilage are termed false ribs. Floating ribs (eleven and twelve) are not attached to the sternum at all.

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