The equine skull is a remarkable bone structure, a complex network of 37 bones that are rigidly connected to each other. Despite its complex structure, the equine skull is relatively easy to visualize with the aid of imaging techniques. These include radiography, CT scans, and MRI. A real horse skull specimen is an ideal educational tool for veterinary students studying comparative anatomy and mammal biology.
The most visible part of the equine skull is the bony structure that forms the cranium, or head. This is a complex structure with several ridges and cavities, the largest of which are the temporal, nasal, and parietal bones that form the skull roof and sides. There are also a number of small bones that make up the facial structures of the skull.
Other parts of the skull that are important for clinical use include the foramina, which are holes in the skull that allow blood vessels or nerves to pass through. There is one called the supraorbital foramen, which is located above the orbital socket. This is used to drain cerebrospinal fluid.
In addition to the foramina, there are also articulations between the bones that allow the skull to move. The most notable of these is the articulation between the sphenoid and the parietal bones, which is known as the spheno-parietal joint. This is an important area in the equine skull that allows for some movement of the jaw.
Another important articulation is the temporomandibular joints, which are found in both the upper and lower jaws. These are the most common articulations in the equine skull and are responsible for the movements of the jaw when chewing or biting.
The articulation between the temporal and occipital bones is also important in the movement of the skull. The occipital condyles are the two large, flat bone projections at the back of the head that articulate with each other. The lateral part of the skull is also surrounded by cartilage, which includes the thyroid cartilage and laryngeal cartilage. There are a number of structures that extend from the basihyoid, including the thyrohyoids and stylohyoids, which run into the ventral surface of the guttural pouches and form medial and lateral compartments.
The shape of a skull changes with age, and this is true in all animals. A very young animal will have a very round head and face. As the animal ages, the facial bones will become much longer and the skull will assume a more domed shape. The occipital and palatine bones will also continue to grow larger. This makes the equine skull a good model for examining morphometrics of cranial evolution.