In sheep and cattle it is known as the paddywhack. It relieves the animal of the weight of its head. Dried paddywhack is commonly packaged and sold as a dog treat.
In most other mammals, including the great apes, the nuchal ligament is absent or present only as a thin fascia. As it is required for running, not all animals have one.
All dogs (and all living Canidae - wolves, foxes, and wild dogs) possess a similar ligament connecting the spinous process of their first thoracic (or chest) vertebrae to the back of the axis bone (second cervical or neck bone), which supports the weight of the head without active muscle exertion, thus saving energy. This ligament is analogous in function (but different in exact structural detail) to the nuchal ligament found in ungulates. This ligament allows dogs to carry their heads while running long distances, such as while following scent trails with their nose to the ground, without expending much energy.,
In humans it is a tendon-like structure that has developed independently in humans and other animals well adapted for running.
In some four-legged animals, particularly ungulates, the nuchal ligament serves to sustain the weight of the head.
In Chiari malformation treatment, decompression and duraplasty with a harvested ligamentum nuchae showed similar outcomes to pericranial and artificial grafts.
^Drake, Richard L.; Vogl, Wayne; Tibbitts, Adam W.M. Mitchell; illustrations by Richard; Richardson, Paul (2005). Gray's anatomy for students (Pbk. ed.). Philadelphia: Elsevier/Churchill Livingstone. p. 45. ISBN 978-0-443-06612-2.
^ abSwindler, D. R., and C. D. Wood. 1973 An Atlas of Primate Gross Anatomy. Seattle: University of Washington Press
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