Rutgers University explains that the axial skeleton consists of the skull, mandible, sternum, sacrum and ribs. These bones combine to form the axis of the entire skeleton, which is why they are collectively called the axial skeleton.
The skull marks the top of the axial skeleton, according to Rutgers University. The skull protects the brain from injury, It holds the eyes and ears and attaches to the mandible, or lower jawbone. In total, the skull consists of 28 different bones, including the small bones in the ear.
The vertebral column connects to the base of the skull. The vertebral column is comprised of 33 different bones, although several of these bones are fused together. For example, the sacrum is composed of five fused bones, according to the University of the Western Cape. The vertebrae protect the spinal cord and provide attachment sites for the appendicular skeleton, which is comprised of the pelvis, shoulders, arms, legs, feet and hands.
The University of the Western Cape states that the human body possesses 12 pairs of ribs. The ribs attach to the vertebrae in the back, and to the sternum in the front. The bottom two pairs of ribs are sometimes called floating ribs, because they do not connect to the sternum in the front of the body. The ribs help protect the body’s internal organs.