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The Skeletal System

This week in our organ system section we are going to take a look at the skeletal system. The adult skeleton is made up of 206 bones. The infant skeleton has up to 270 bones but by the time we reach adult to form a lot of these bones have fused. These bones and their ligaments, joints, and cartilage make up the skeletal system.

This provides the architecture of our body. It provides protection, support, and stability. It also permits movement and is a store for fat and minerals and is involved in the production of red blood cells.

We can divide the skeleton into 2 subcategories – the axial and appendicular skeleton. The axial skeleton consists of bones that lie on the longitudinal axis, the skull, the vertebral column, and the thoracic cage. The appendicular skeleton is made up of the bones of the upper and lower limbs.

The types of bones can be divided into different categories as well. Flat bones are found in the skull, the femur is an example of a long bone, the carpals are short bones, the vertebrae are irregular bones, and the patella (knee) is a sesamoid bone.

Bones are connected via joints. All except the hyoid bone. The attaching tendons, ligaments, and muscles allow for the movement of the body. Bones contain bone marrow. Red marrow produces red blood cells or yellow marrow for adipose tissue.

Cartilage is present in the joints. It prevents friction between bones and allows for the transmission of loads to the underlying bone. It also provides the best surface for the movement of the joint.

Ligaments are soft tissue component that works alongside the muscular and skeletal systems. It connects two bones. They stabilise the joint and prevent excessive movement that would result in injury.

This is just a brief overview of our skeletal system, and we can easily go into a lot of detail with each individual bone. In the next few weeks, we will discuss what secrets the skeleton can tell us and how this can benefit a post mortem.


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