Learn about the Skeleton

A skeleton lurks within us all!

Skeletons are very intriguing. They have been portrayed as creepy and scary. But they are not really scary. In fact they are very helpful to humans and animals. A skeleton is a rigid framework without which none of our other body parts would stay in place. If we didn’t have a skeleton under our skin, protecting our organs we would just be a lump of jelly on the ground! Everybody has a skeleton. Even animals have skeletons. The skeleton is rigid but can still allow movement because of joints connecting the bones together.

What is a skeleton made of?

All skeletons are made up of bones. Bones are rigid organs that form part of the endoskeleton of vertebrates. They function to move, support, and protect the various organs of the body, produce red and white blood cells and store minerals. There are four different kinds of bones. 1. Long Bones, like the bones in our legs and arms. 2. Short Bones, like those in our fingers. 3. Flat bones, like those that make up our skull. 4. Irregular bones, like bones in our spinal column. Bones are made up of 2 types of tissue. The first is called compact tissue and is what we all know as the hard surface on the outside of the bone. The second is called spongy tissue which is the inner part of the bone. skeleton_1 Our bones are classified in one of two groups depending on which part of the skeleton they are found in. The axial skeleton is made up of the skull - give it a tap; the vertebral column, which runs down our back; the ribs - we all know where these are; and the sternum, which is otherwise known as our breast-bone. This portion of the skeleton acts as the major support system to keep your body standing upright. The Appendicular skeleton - consists of the bones of all four limbs and in the pelvic and shoulder area. This part of our skeleton contains all of the bones whose names we are quite familiar with. In our arms, our funny bone, or humerus, is found coming from our shoulder bone and continuing to our elbow. This is the bone that brings anything BUT a chuckle if we slam it- or more accurately, the nerve that runs along it. The radius and ulna are the two bones that run from the elbow to our wrist and are the arm bones most commonly broken and seen in plaster casts! We have many small bones in our hands and they end up at the finger bones, which are known as phalanges. In fact, all bones are joined together in some sort of fashion, which permits movement. The places where bones meet are called joints. The knees and the elbows are examples of joints and are very easily demonstrated by bending and straighten your arms and legs.

How many bones in a skeleton?

A skeleton is made up of several kinds of bones. The average adult human skeleton has around 206 bones. These bones meet at joints, the majority of which are freely movable. The skeleton also contains cartilage for elasticity. Ligaments are strong strips of fibrous connective tissue that hold bones together at joints, thereby stabilizing the skeleton during movement.

How can I remember all the bones?

Here is a great song to help you remember how the bones of the legs are organized; 1.2.3. SING…the hip bone’s connected to the thigh bone…The femur’s connected to the shin bones - tibia and fibula. - The tib and fib are connected to the ankle bone (talus). The talus is connected to the heel bone (calcaneum). The calcaneum’s connected to the foot bones. And the toe bones are at the end… phalanges! The vertebral column, or backbone, is the major force which supports us in standing upright. Its shape is a double ‘S' and its structure is much like a tunnel of bone through which the spinal cord runs. The spinal cord is very delicate but is well protected by the bone structure of the vertebral column. The bones of the vertebral column - there are 24 of them - all have interesting shapes that can be felt by running a finger down someone’s back. The spine is divided into 4 sections; the cervical area at the neck; the thoracic area to which the rib cage is attached; the lumbar area just beneath the thoracic area and the sacral area which ends in your tail-bone. Between each bone in the vertebral column is an intervertebral disk - or simply disk. These disks are soft and spongy and allow some flexibility to the spine so that we can use our backs for many movements.

Why do we need a skeleton?

We need a skeleton to protect our organs and help us move. By simply using your own body, you can understand that bones, and the skeleton, form an important part of everybody’s anatomy. They are the support structure that keeps us upright and walking tall!