Your skeleton is a rigid framework of bones, which provides an anchor for your muscles, supports your skin and other organs, and protects vital organs.
An adult’s skeleton has 206 bones joined together by rubbery cartilage. Some people have extra vertebrae (the bones of the backbone, or spine).
A baby’s skeleton has 300 or more bones, but some of these fuse (join) together as the baby grows.
The parts of an adult skeleton that have fused into one bone include the skull and the pelvis (see the skull). The pelvis came from fusing the ilium bones, the ischium bones and the pubis. The ischium is the bone that you sit on.
The skeleton has two main parts — the axial and the appendicular skeleton.
The axial skeleton is the 80 bones of the upper body. It includes the skull, the vertebrae of the backbone, the ribs and the breastbone. The arm and shoulder bones are suspended from it.
The appendicular skeleton is the other 126 bones — the arm and shoulder bones, and the leg and hip bones. It includes the femur (thigh bone), the body’s longest bone.
The word skeleton comes from the Ancient Greek word for ‘dry’.
Most women and girls have smaller and lighter skeletons than men and boys. But in women and girls, the pelvis is much wider than in men and boys. This is because the opening has to be wide enough for a baby to pass through when it is born.
The tiniest bone in your body is only 3 mm long and is found in your ear. A There are 19 bones in the toes and foot, and 6 in the ankle, making 25 bones altogether that can be seen in this photograph.