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Difference between Backbone and Spinal Cord

Backbone and Spinal Cord

A bundle of nerves, the spinal cord runs inside the cavity, the bone tunnel of the vertebral column, which forms the bones of the back. The vertebrae together form the backbone. The vertebral column is a segmented bony structure supporting the head/torso and thorax. The spinal cord runs in the vertebral column. Although they run together, they are completely separate and have distinct structures.

Both the backbone and spinal cord are posteriorly located. While the backbone is an integral part of the skeletal system, the spinal cord forms a major part of the central nervous system found in the backbone. During the initial stages of development, both the backbone and the spinal cord are similar in length. Eventually, over time, they start differing in size.

Spinal Cord and Vertebrae

The backbone consists of vertebrae, protecting the spinal cord while the spinal cord facilitates the linking of the brain to the body parts for the exchange of motor and sensory information.

The spinal cord is found in the spinal column that in turn, is composed of 33 bones referred to as vertebrae. The sacrum is formed by the fusion of the five vertebrae, while the coccyx is formed by the fusion of four vertebrae.

Difference between Backbone and Spinal Cord

Following are some of the important differences between the Backbone and the Spinal cord.

Spinal cord
Part of this System
Part of the skeletal system. Part of the central nervous system.
Made up of vertebrae. It is a long nerve sheath.
Association with Each Other
Holds the spinal cord. Found inside the backbone.
Length in Humans
Longer than the spinal cord. Shorter than backbone.
Protects the spinal cord, renders support to the body, and provides body posture. Regulates vital activities of the body by mediating with body parts and the brain.

Those were some differences between the backbone and the spinal cord. Watch this space at BYJU’S for more such differences for NEET preparation.

You may be interested in:

Nervous system MCQs
Central nervous system MCQs
Neural control and coordination
Bones of spine

Frequently Asked Questions on Difference Between Backbone and Spinal cord


What is the difference between the spinal cord and the vertebrae?

The spinal cord is a band of nerves, tissues and cells. The vertebral column, a protective layer of the bone, wraps and protects the spinal cord. The bones in the vertebral column are referred to as vertebrae.


What are the main parts of the spinal cord?

There are 3 primary parts of the spinal cord – Cervical, Thoracic and the Lumbar region.


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