The skeleton system provides the hard structure or framework to the human body which supports and protects the body. It is composed of connective tissues like bones, cartilage, tendons and ligaments. If the skeleton is without joints, no movement would take place and the significance of human body will be no more than a stone. On the basis of presence in the body, skeleton is of two types.
It is the skeleton that is found on the exterior layer of the body and it basically originates from embryonic ectoderm or mesoderm. Like scales in the fishes, outer hard layer of the tortoise and feathers of the birds it protects and preserves the inner organs.
It is the skeleton that is found inside the human body and it originates from the mesoderm. These are found in almost all vertebrates and form the main body structure.
1. Functions of skeleton
The skeletal system serves five important functions in the human body.
1. It provides structure and shape to the body.
2. It supports and surrounds the internal organs of the body.
3. Calcium and phosphorus, the two minerals that the body needs for important regulatory functions, are stored inside the bones.
4. Red blood cells are produced in the bone marrow.
5. The bones of the skeletal system act as levers for muscular action. Muscular movement would not be possible without tendons (fibrous cords of tissue that attach muscle to bone) and ligaments (fibrous cords of tissue that attach bone to bone).
• The femur or thighbone is the longest and strongest bone of the human skeleton. • The stapes in the middle ear is the smallest and lightest bone of the human skeleton.
2. Constituents of skeleton
Human skeleton consists of bone, cartilages and ligaments. Bones comprise the hard framework of the body. Cartilages are the supporting and connecting structures. For example, the cartilage supports the projecting external ears and the tip of the nose. Ligaments bind the bones together. There are different types of bones in human skeletal system. They are:
Long bones: Found in arms and legs.
Short bones: Found in wrist ankle, vertebral column.
Flat bones: Found in skull, ribs, shoulder and hips.
Irregular bones: Found in spine and vertebral column, mandible, palatine, inferior nasal concha, and hyoid.
3. Parts of skeleton
The skeletal system is composed of bones and the related structures that aid body movement. It is divided into two major parts: the axial skeleton and the appendicular skeleton.
I. Axial skeleton
The axial skeleton consists of the bones along the axis, or central line of the human body. The axial skeleton consists of the skull, facial bones, sternum, ribs, and vertebral column.
Skull is a hard structure made up of small bones. It is formed by 22 bones out of which 8 bones are fixed together to form the cranium and 14 bones fuse to form the face. The only bone which has movable joint is the lower jaw. This movable joint is supported by muscles and ligaments. Skull placed on the top of the backbone can be moved up, down and sidewards.
b. Vertebral column
Vertebral column running at the back of the body is also called as spine or the backbone. It is in the trunk region to offer support to the upper part of the body. Vertebral column is made up of individual bones called as vertebrae. Total vertebral column consists of 7 cervical vertebrae, 12 lumbar vertebrae, 5 fused sacral and 3 fused coccygeal vertebrae. Vertebral column runs from the base of the skull to the hip bone forming a tube. Spinal cord passes through this hollow tube. Vertebrae are joined by gliding points which allow the body to be bent back, front or side wards.
The functions of vertebral column are given below.
* It protects the spinal cord.
* It supports the head.
* It serves as an attachment for the ribs.
* It provides support and place of attachment for the pectoral and pelvic girdle.
* It provides movement for the human skeleton.
* It helps in walking and standing erect with correct posture.
c. Sternum or Rib cage
Rib cage occupies the chest region. It is a cone-shaped structure made up of Twelve pairs of ribs. Ribs are attached to vertebrae at the back which curve around to form a cage. Ten pairs of ribs are attached to the breast bone at the front. Two pairs of lower ribs are free at front. These are called as free-floating ribs. Rib cage is set up in such a way that it can contract and expand during the process of breathing. Rib cage protects the underlying lungs, heart and some part of liver.
Humans and giraffes have the same number of bones in the necks, but the vertebrae in a giraffe’s neck are much, much larger.
II. Appendicular skeleton
The appendicular skeleton contains the bones in the appendages of the body, as well as the structures that connect the appendages to the axial skeleton. Specifically, the appendicular skeleton comprises the shoulder girdle; the arm, wrist, and hand bones; the pelvic girdle; and the leg, ankle, and foot bones.
a. Shoulder bone or Pectoral bone
Shoulder bone is formed by collar bone at the front and the shoulder blade at the back. The collar bone is supported by breast bone at one end and the shoulder blade at the other end. The shoulder bone encloses a socket like cavity into which fixes the ball of the upper arm. This forms a ball and socket joint. This girdle is also called as pectoral girdle.
b. Pelvic bone
Pelvic bone is also called as pelvic girdle. It is made up of strong bones to balance entire weight of the body. Pelvic girdle is formed by five fused vertebrae at the back and form a cavity in the centre while reaching the front part.
The thigh bones are attached to either side of the girdle with a ball and socket joint.
c. Arm bone
Arm bone is the upper limb made up of humerus, radius, ulna, carpals, metacarpals and phalanges. All these bones are joined by hinge joints which allow the limb to move only in one direction. Humerus makes up the upper arm. Fore-arm is made up of radius and ulna. Wrist is made up of carpals. Palm is made up of metacarpals. Fingers are made up of phalanges.
d. Leg bone
Leg bone is the lower limb made up of femur, tibia, fibula, tarsals, metatarsals and phalanges. All these bones are joined by hinge joints which allow the limb to move only in one direction.
Knee is covered by a cap like structure called as patella or a knee cap. Femur makes up the thigh bone. Leg is made up of tibia and fibula. Ankle is made up of tarsals. Foot is made up of metatarsals. Toes are made up of phalanges.