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10 Skeleton Facts

April 2, 2019

No bones about it — the human skeleton is a fascinating thing.

Longest bone

Longest bone in the body: The femur, or thigh bone. It’s also the strongest, able to withstand more pressure than concrete. It’s so tough that it’s one of the most seldom broken bones in the body. 

Smallest bone

Smallest bone in the body: The stapes. It’s found in the inner ear and it’s 0.1 inches long. It helps process vibrations as they enter the ear and help the brain convert them into recognizable sounds.

206 bones

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably got 206 bones — that’s how many adults have. But you had about 300 when you were born. Did you lose your bones between now and then? Nope — all those “extra” bones fuse together as you age. (Most of them are in the feet, and fuse quickly, which explains why babies can’t walk — their feet are still literally coming together.)

How many ribs?

If you’re average, you’ve got twelve pairs of ribs, or 24 total. One in every 500 people or so is born with an extra, called the cervical rib. It grows forth (or grows partially) right near the collarbone. That’s a bad place for an unnecessary rib, and it can cause major health problems if it grows in the way of nerves and/or blood vessels.

The patella

But one bone you’ve got that a baby doesn’t: the patella, or kneecap. It doesn’t fully develop until around age 2.

Most active bones

Most active bones: the ribs. They move around about five million times a year, what with your constant need to breathe.

Bone marrow

You probably know what’s inside of bones: bone marrow. But what’s inside of bone marrow? Stem cells, the basis of blood, heart, brain, and, yes, bone cells.

Not connected!

The hyoid is never mentioned in that “Dem Bones” song about all the bones being connected to each other, and for good reason: It’s the only bone in the body not connected to another bone. Shaped like a capital-U, it sits in the throat between the chin and the cartilage by the thyroid. The hyoid works with the larynx and tongue to produce speech.

What’s in a hand?

There are no muscles in the hands, but there are 123 ligaments, 29 joints, and 27 bones.

The funny bone

The funny bone isn’t a bone at all. It’s technically called the ulnar nerve, and it’s located just under the skin, and very close to the elbow, thus giving off the impression that it’s a bone.

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