2nd Cervical Vertebra - Axis Low-poly 3D model
In anatomy, the second cervical vertebra (C2) of the spine is named the axis (from Latin axis, “axle”) or epistropheus.
By the atlanto-axial joint, it forms the pivot upon which the first cervical vertebra (the atlas), which carries the head, rotates.
The most distinctive characteristic of this bone is the strong odontoid process known as the dens which rises perpendicularly from the upper surface of the body. That peculiar feature gives to the vertebra a rarely used third name: vertebra dentata. In some judicial hangings the odontoid process may break and hit the medulla oblongata, causing death.