Bones of the Human Body – The Skeletal System and Its Functions

In this article we introduce you to the bones of the human body and explain some if its functions. Bones, in humans, are used for movement, support, protection of the organs, and production of red and white blood cells.

Our skeletal system is the framework that holds our bodies together. It is made up of all of our bones as well as cartilage and includes our joints.

  • The bones of the human body¬†are more or less all of the hard parts in our bodies.
  • They are tough and rigid and are categorized as a connective tissue.
  • The main purpose of bones is to bear weight but they also serve to protect our organs as in the case of the rib cage and skull.

About one third of a bone is organic and the other two thirds are an inorganic compound of calcium salts.

  • The inorganic portion of a bone makes it hard and gives it its rigidity so that it can resist compression and be able to bear weight.
  • The organic part of the bone gives it resiliency and enables the bone to withstand tensile force.
  • Cartilage is another type of connective tissue that is more rubbery than bone.

It serves as a frame work in places where bone would be too hard and, because of its elasticity, it also functions as a shock absorber and provides padding in the joints.

The main difference between bone and cartilage is the number of minerals contained in them. Bone contains a high degree of calcium salts which gives them their hardness while cartilage contains much less enabling it to remain relatively soft and elastic.

The joints of the skeletal system are the places where the bones of the human body meet and act as a hinge; such as in the elbows and knees.

  • There are some joints which are not designed to allow movement but instead enable the skeleton to expand as we grow.
  • Babies have more joints than adults; this is to enable their bodies to expand and change as they grow.

As they grow into adulthood, these extra joints fuse together reducing the overall number of bones in their bodies.

The bones of the human body that meet at a joint are held together by ligaments,

  • tough fibrous bands of connective tissue,
  • and their ends are coated in cartilage that acts as padding enabling the two bones to rub together without wearing down.

In general, the human skeleton can be divided into two main sections: the axial skeleton and the appendicular skeleton.

The axial skeleton is made up of all the bones that form the axis of our bodies; mainly the skull and spine along with the rib cage.

The appendicular skeleton is the bones of our appendages. It is made up of the bones of our arms and legs as well as the pelvis and shoulders including the clavicle and scapular. So you now you know a bit about what the skeletal system is; but what does it actually do?

Skeletal system functions

Each of our skeletons serve a number of functions.

Primarily it gives our bodies shape and provides strength and support.

  • Our bones enable us to stand upright and move around; without them we would be just a mass of soft tissue.
  • Our bones also protect our major organs.
  • The skull is the main line of defense for our brains, and our rib cage protects our heart and lungs. If these organs ore damaged it is usually fatal so from an evolutionary point of view the bones protecting them are essential to our survival.
  • Bones are also an essential part of movement.

Muscles are connected to our bones and where bones meet at a joint the muscles around it contract and expand enabling the two bones to act as a hinge. This is what enables us to walk and use our arms. Without the hard bones to give leverage we wouldn’t have the dexterity that we do.

The larger bones in our bodies are hollow and contain bone marrow which is a fatty connective tissue.

  • Bone marrow produces blood cells as well as lymphocytes which aid our immune systems.
  • Bone marrow is soft and spongy, unlike the hard bone that encases it, and is infused with blood vessels.

When we are born our bones contain red marrow, which is involved in cell production, but as we grow older this starts turning into yellow marrow.

Yellow bone marrow is mostly fat and serves the purpose of providing sustenance as well as keeping the right conditions for the bone to function.

As you can see the skeleton has more than one role in our lives.

To learn more about our anatomy click here .

The human skeletal system is an amazing and complex part of our bodies that enables us to perform our daily functions and protects our lives. Hopefully with this article you now have a much better idea about what it is and what it does. If your interest has been piqued, I encourage you to look further. The study of the skeletal system is essential to our health and well being and is an important part of understanding the bones of the human body.







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