What are ribs

Perhaps Eve arose from Adam's rib

Perhaps Eve arose from Adam's rib

Every vertebrate has the elongated curved bones that pull down or forwards and thus encompass the chest on both sides: the ribs. In fish, these occur in the entire trunk region, the amphibians have small ribs or they are completely absent.

Every vertebrate has elongated curved bones that pull down or forwards and thus encompass the chest on both sides: the ribs. In fish, these occur in the entire trunk region, the amphibians have small ribs or they are completely absent. And in humans, the ribs are only present in the thoracic area, the lumbar area remains free.

Real and fake ribs

The ribs are built in pairs, mirror images, are articulated to the thoracic spine and form the bony chest with the breastbone. In humans, however, not all pairs of ribs are cartilaginous with the rib cage. Only the first seven pairs are connected to the sternum and are therefore also referred to as "real" pairs of ribs. Ribs eight to ten are called "false" ribs - they are only indirectly connected to the sternum.

Function as naming

Many bones are named for their appearance - but not the rib. If you look at the origin of the word rib, you notice that function was perceived as more important than appearance. The translation from Old High German is Rippe. But the translation from the Greek shows the function: The Greek word eréphein means “to cover”, “to cover” or “roof” or “cover” in German. Accordingly, the ribs, as part of the chest, form a protective shell and cover for important organs such as the heart, lungs and liver.

Mysterious 13th rib

There is also a myth about the ribs. This says that women have one more rib than men, i.e. 13 ribs instead of 12. The origin of the myth is traced back to the creation of women in the biblical story about Adam and Eve: Adam gave a rib to create Eve . Other myths also address the creation of a human being from bones, for example Dionysus was born from Zeus' thigh bone.

However, the scientists agree on one thing: a 13th rib is rare. But how rare is difficult to say. We are talking about six percent of the population or one in 200 people. But the researchers are not of the opinion that the number of bones comes from the biblical history of origin. Rather, they see the superfluous rib as a holdover from evolution - a kind of identification of our ancestry from animals that had many more ribs than we did. If you want to know its number, you need an X-ray machine, because scanning is not possible.