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     Skeletal system is the system of bones, associated cartilages and joints of human body. Together these structures form the human skeleton. Skeleton can be defined as the hard framework of human body around which the entire body is built. Almost all the hard parts of human body are components of human skeletal system. Joints are very important because they make the hard and rigid skeleton allow different types of movements at different locations. If the skeleton were without joints, no movement would have taken place and the significance of human body; no more than a stone.

Figure (a) shows the skeletal system

Components of Human Skeleton:

Human skeleton is composed of three main components; Bones, Associated cartilages and Joints.


Bone is a tough and rigid form of connective tissue. It is the weight bearing organ of human body and it is responsible for almost all strength of human skeleton.


Cartilage is also a form of connective tissue but is not as tough and rigid as bone. The main difference in the cartilage and bone is the mineralization factor. Bones are highly mineralized with calcium salts while cartilages are not.


Joints are important components of human skeleton because they make the human skeleton mobile. A joint occurs between “two or more bones”, “bone and cartilage” and “cartilage and cartilage”.

Divisions of Human Skeleton:

Human skeleton can be divided into two divisions.

Axial Skeleton:

Axial skeleton forms the axis of human body. It consists of Skull, vertebral column and thoracic cage.

   Skull: Skull is that part of human skeleton that forms the bony framework of the head. It consists of 22 different bones that are divided into two groups: bones of cranium and bones of face.

   Vertebral Column: It is a flexible column of vertebrae, connecting the trunk of human body to the skull and appendages. It is composed of 33 vertebrae which are divided into 5 regions: Cervical, Thoracic, Lumbar, Sacral, and Coccygeal.

   Rib Cage: It is a bony cage enclosing vital human organs formed by the sternum and ribs. There are 12 pairs of ribs that are divided into three groups: True ribs, False ribs, and Floating ribs.

Appendicular Skeleton:

It is the skeleton of appendages of human body. It consists of Shoulder girdle, Skeleton of upper limb, Pelvic girdle and Skeleton of lower limb.
Shoulder Girdle: It attaches the upper limb to body trunk and is formed by two bones: clavicle and scapula.Clavicle is a modified long bone and is subcutaneous throughout its position. It is also known as the beauty bone. For more details on clavicle, visit:”"Scapula is a pear shaped flat bone that contains the glenoid fossa for the formation of shoulder joint. It possesses three important processes: Spine of scapula, Acromion process and Coracoid process.

   Skeleton of Upper limb: The skeleton of each upper limb consists of 30 bones. These bones are: Humerus, Ulna, Radius, Carpals (8), Metacarpals (5), Phalanges (14).

   Pelvic Girdle: There are two pelvic girdles (one for each lower limb) but unlike the pectoral girdles, they are jointed with each other at symphysis pubis. Each pelvic girdle is a single bone in adults and is made up of three components: Ileum, Ischium and Pubis.
Skeleton of Lower limb: The skeleton of each lower limb consists of 30 bones. These bones are; Femur, Tibia, Patella, Tarsals (7), Metatarsals (5), Phalanges (14).

Functions of human skeleton:

Human skeleton performs some important functions that are necessary for survival of human beings.

   STRENGTH, SUPPORT AND SHAPE: It gives strength, support and shape to the body. Without a hard and rigid skeletal system, human body cannot stand upright, and it will become just a bag of soft tissues without any proper shape

   PROTECTION OF DELICATE ORGANS: In areas like the rib cage and skull, the skeleton protects inner soft but vital organs like heart and brain from external shocks. Any damage to these organs can prove fatal, therefore protective function of skeleton is very important

   LEVERAGE FOR MOVEMENTS: Bones of the human skeleton in all parts of body provide attachment to the muscles. These muscles provide motor power for producing movements of body parts. In these movements the parts of skeleton acts like levers of different types thus producing movements according to the needs of the human body.

   PRODUCTION OF RED BLOOD CELLS: Bones like the sternum, and heads of tibia have hemopoeitic activity (blood cells production). These are the sites of production of new blood cells.


1. Skull consists of

a) 22 different bones

b) 21 different bones

c) 20 different bones

d) 18 different bones

2. The functions of skeletal system are,

a) Production of RBC

b) Leverage of movements

c) Strength, support and shape of the body

d) Protect the delicate organs

e) All


a) 22 different bones

d) All





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