KLB Science Department Interactivities Information on the Human Skeleton
Hover over the image of the human skeleton to reveal the names of some of the major bones.
Click here to try an
exercise on naming the bones
here to try an
exercise on dragging the labels into the correct positions
Information on the Human Skeleton:
Functions of the skeleton:
Support: The skeleton provides the framework to keep the
human body in the correct
shape, by supporting many internal organs and the muscles of the body.
Protection: Important and delicate organs are protected
by bone. Examples include the skull protecting the brain and eyeballs, the
ribs protecting the heart and lungs, and the vertebral column protecting the
Movement: Joints between the bones allow movement to be
smooth, without friction. Muscles can only exert a pulling force so
they are often arranged in pairs, one muscle producing the opposite movement
of the joint to the other muscle. The bones and joints are often
arranged as levers so a small contraction in the muscle produces a large
movement in the bones.
Attachment: The bones of the skeleton provide an
attachment surface for muscles, tendons and ligaments. Without these
attachments, the movement referred to above would not occur.
Blood cell production: blood cells are produced in the
red bone marrow inside the larger bones of the body.
Questions and answers about
How many bones are there in the human body?
The adult human skeleton is made up of 206 bones. A baby
is actually born with about 300 bones but many fuse together as it grows up.
How do bones change as a human grows?
In the human embryo the entire skeleton is made of
firm but elastic material (in an adult, cartilage supports the ear).
Cartilage is made up of tough non-elastic fibres called collagen, mixed with
stretchy elastic fibres.
Gradually the bones develop by depositing a hard
mineral called calcium phosphate. This is called ossification. The final bone is made up of this
mineral and the tough collagen fibres.
Why is bone made up of two completely different materials?
If bone did not have the collagen fibres in it then it would be
too rigid and would shatter very easily.
If bone did not have the
minerals in it then it would be too flexible and could not support and protect
other parts of the body.
How do male and female skeletons differ?
Adult males and females have slightly different skeletons. Male
skeletons have slightly thicker and longer leg and arm bones while female
skeletons have a wider pelvis and a larger space within the pelvis to allow a
baby to travel through more easily at birth.
How can broken bones repair themselves?
Bone is a living
material and can repair itself when it is broken or fractured. Small bones
such as the ribs can repair themselves quickly but a large bone such as a femur
can take a long time.
What can weaken bones?
If a child's diet is low in calcium or
vitamin D then the bones will grow but ossification is not completed. The adult
bones are deformed and weak so they fracture easily. This deficiency
disease is called rickets.
Many women suffer from
osteoporosis after the menopause. This is where the amount of mineral
in the bone decreases so the bones are weakened.