"Cranium" and "crania" redirect here. For other uses, see Cranium (disambiguation).
This article incorporates text from a public domain edition of Gray's Anatomy.
The skull is a bony structure in the head of many animals that supports the structures of the face and forms a cavity for the brain.
The skull is composed of two parts: the cranium and the mandible. A skull without a mandible is only a cranium. Animals that have skulls are called craniates. The skull is a part of the skeleton.
Functions of the skull include protection of the brain, fixing the distance between the eyes to allow stereoscopic vision, and fixing the position of the ears to help the brain use auditory cues to judge direction and distance of sounds. In some animals, the skull also has a defensive function (e.g. horned ungulates); the frontal bone is where horns are mounted.
The English word "skull" is probably derived from Old Norse "skalli" meaning bald, while the Latin word cranium comes from the Greek root κρανίον (kranion).