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Definition of Vertebra, first cervical

Vertebra, first cervical: The first cervical (neck) vertebra is called the atlas. It supports the head.

The atlas bone is named for the Greek god Atlas who was condemned to support the earth and its heavens on his shoulders. (Because the god Atlas often adorned maps, a compilation of maps came to be known as an atlas).

Source: MedTerms™ Medical Dictionary
http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=8755
Last Editorial Review: 6/14/2012

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