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What is Skeletal Anatomy?

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  • Written By: Dulce Corazon
  • Edited By: J.T. Gale
  • Last Modified Date: 01 November 2016
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The skeletal anatomy of the human body is comprised of a framework of bones that support the body and help maintain its basic shape. It provides covering and protection to delicate organs of the body such as the brain, spine, heart, lungs, and the reproductive organs. Also, it serves as an attachment location for ligaments, tendons, and skeletal muscles.

Generally, the skeletal system allows specific movements to be performed by the actions of the muscles connected to the different bones inside the body. Production of blood cells also occurs in the bone marrow which is located inside the flat bones. Bones also are storage sites for phosphorous and calcium. These minerals are important in the maintenance of bone strength.

The skeletal anatomy of a newborn baby consists of more than 300 bones, some of which fuse together as the baby grows. There are a total of 206 bones in an adult skeletal anatomy. The head contains 29 bones, the trunk 55 bones, and the arms and the legs have 122 bones.

Most all bones connect at a joint. Some joints are freely movable, such as those in shoulders, hips, knees, and elbows. Slightly movable joints are found in the vertebrae of the spine. Joints which permit no movement can be found in the skull.

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Bones are categorized into four general types: flat bones, long bones, short bones, and irregular bones. Flat bones protect vital organs and have hollow centers where blood formation occurs. They are the bones of the skull, ribs and shoulders.

The skeletal function of long bones is to act as levers for the body. Examples can be found in the hands and feet, the longest of which is the femur or thigh bone. The short bones are found in the ankles and wrists. Bones that have varied shapes and sizes are those found in the spine and the face.

Skeletal anatomy is divided into two distinct parts, namely the axial skeleton and the appendicular skeleton. The axial skeleton is made up of the bones of the ribs, the sternum, the spinal column, the skull, and the hyoid bone. They make up the longitudinal axis of the body and function as protection and support to vital organs located in the trunk, chest, and head. The appendicular skeleton is composed of the hip bones, the shoulder girdle, the arms, and the legs. They form the appendages that connect to the axial skeletal anatomy.

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