Difference Between Vertebra and Vertebrae

Vertebra vs Vertebrae

The confusion about these two terms is high among many people because of the close relationship between the two terms. In fact, the spellings of the terms are also similar except for only one letter that comes at the end of one term. Therefore, vertebra and vertebrae could be easily confused. Thus, the need to understand the terms with proper and correct information about them would only benefit. This article intends to discuss the characteristics of both vertebra and vertebrae with an emphasis on the differences between them, as well. As an initiative, the relationship between vertebra and vertebrae is like a cell and tissue or a brick and a wall. However, the characteristics may still differ between each other and it is worthwhile to follow the presented information here in this article.


Vertebra is any single bone of the spinal column or the backbone of the vertebrate animals. A vertebra consists of a cylindrical body with an arch and various processes. It also forms a foramen or opening, so that the spinal cord can pass through that. In order to understand the structure clearly, the anterior and the posterior segments should be understood, as they form the two main parts of a vertebra. The anterior segment is the body of the vertebra and the vertebral arch with the foramen form the posterior portion. Two pedicles, a pair of laminae, and seven processes together form the arch. Each vertebra articulates the immediate ones, so that there is a hollow for the spinal cord. The cartilaginous structure between each vertebra is known as inter vertebral disc. The shape and the size of each vertebra differ within each other. That is because the location of each bone is specific inside the body. For example, a cervical vertebra is smaller compared to a lumbar vertebra. The shape of thoracic vertebral bones is specific, as the shape of each account for articulation with the ribs, as well. Each vertebra is extremely important for the animal in various ways.


The term vertebrae simply imply the plural form of vertebra. In other words, all the vertebral bones together form the vertebrae or the backbone of a vertebrate animal. The backbone has five regions known as Cervical, Thoracic, Lumbar, Sacral, and Coccygeal from anterior to posterior. Vertebrae provide protection to the spinal cord and spinal vessels. As it is being formed from a series of bones, with the cartilaginous inter vertebral disc, the flexibility is served. Therefore, the animal can bend the backbone for a certain degree temporarily, and that eased many behaviours are possible for the vertebrates. The vertebrae look straight when viewed from dorsally or ventrally, but there are curves that are visible from the lateral view only. In fact, there are four curves identified; two are concave and the other two are convex. Each structure of the backbone of vertebrates is vital for them. The tail of vertebrate is an extension of the vertebrae, which is helpful for them to maintain the balance of the body.

What is the difference between Vertebra and Vertebrae?

• Vertebra is a single bone while vertebrae are the collection of all those vertebral bones together. In other words, one vertebra is the basic building unit of the vertebrae or the backbone.

• Vertebra is very small compared to vertebrae.

• One vertebra alone is not flexible as being a hard structure, whereas all the vertebrae are flexible with the aid of each inter vertebral disc.

• There are five types of vertebra corresponding to the five regions of the vertebrae.

• Vertebrae or the backbone has four curves, but not in one vertebra.