Bones of the Skull Anatomy

By Shannon Young, DPT

What are the Bones of the Skull Anatomy?

The human skull forms the foundation of our head and protects our brain.

The cranium is the part of the skull that forms most of our head, encasing the brain.  The cranium is composed of the eight bones of the skull known as the cranial bones.  The cranial bones include the frontal bone, a parietal bone on each side, a temporal bone on each side, the occipital bone, the ethmoid bone, and the sphenoid bone. These bones come together at joints called sutures, which help eliminate movement of the skull’s bones.

Labeled diagram of the 8 cranial bones of the skull anatomy showing bones in the skull. JOI Rehab

Anatomy of the Human Skull


What are the 22 Bones of the Skull?

The quick answer is the bones of the skull are made up of 8 cranial bones and 14 facial bones for 22 bones of the skull. 

The skull’s 14 facial bones form the structure of our nose, cheeks, mouth, and jaw. The bones that make up the nose are fairly small. There are two nasal bones, one on each side, two nasal conchae, one on each side, and the vomer. The vomer is part of the nasal septum and connects with the cranium’s sphenoid and ethmoid bones. There are also two lacrimal bones; these are also important structures to protect the lacrimal glands, which produce tears.

8 Cranial Bones or Neurocranium

  • (2) Temporal
  • (1) Occipital
  • (1) Ethmoid bones
  • (1) Frontal
  • (2) Parietal 
  • (1) Sphenoid
Labeled Illustration of the 8 cranial skull bones of the neurocranium. JOI Rehab

8 Cranial Bones or Neurocranium

Another name for the 8 cranial bones is the neurocranium. Neuro- is a medical root word that references the brain and nerves that directly connect to the brain.

What are the Cheekbones?

Two bones that form the cheeks, the two zygomatic bones, sometimes referred to as zygomatic arches. The zygomatic bones connect with the maxilla, temporal, frontal, and sphenoid bones on each side of the face.

X-ray of human skull highlighting the zygomatic bone or cheekbone. JOI Rehab

Zygomatic Bone

What are the Bones of the Mouth?

The bones that form the mouth and jaw are the two palatine bones, two maxilla bones, and the mandible. The two palatine bones form the roof of the mouth and help to form the mouth cavity. The two maxilla bones, one on the left and one on the right, form the top jaw and anchor our upper teeth. The mandible is the bottom jaw and anchors our bottom teeth; the mandible comes together with the temporal bones to make a hinge joint known as the temporomandibular joints or TMJ, one on the right side and one on the left side of the skull.

By: Shannon Young, DPT

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