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This is the large oval hole at the base of the skull allowing for communication between the cranial vault and the vertebral canal. It is wider posterior than anterior and provides passage for the medulla oblongata, vertebral arteries, spinal accessory nerves, sympathetic communications with the accessory, posterior spinal arteries, anterior spinal arteries, and meningeal membranes. The atlanto-occipital membrane attaches to its anterior and posterior borders, while its lateral borders provide attachment for the alar ligaments.
Foramen is the Latin term designating a hole-like opening. It is derived from the Latin forare meaning to bore or perforate. Magnum is the Latin neuter of magnus meaning great.