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The occipital bone, situated at the back and lower part of the cranium, is trapezoid in shape and curved on itself. It is pierced by a large oval aperture, the foramen magnum, through which the cranial cavity communicates with the vertebral canal. The curved, expanded plate behind the foramen magnum is named the squama; the thick, somewhat quadrilateral piece in front of the foramen is called the basilar part, whilst on either side of the foramen is the lateral portion.