Definition of Skeleton

The organization of the bones in the body. The skeleton has two primary organizational divisions: the axial and the appendicular skeleton. The axial skeleton consists of the bones that form the body’s axis or perpendicular line, which include the head, rib cage, and spine. It contains 80 bones. The remaining 126 bones arms, hands, legs, feet, shoulders, pelvis, hips form the appendicular skeleton.

The primary functions are to give the body structure, support and protect the body’s internal organs, and enable mobility. Within certain bones is the bone marrow, which produces the body’s blood cells.

The skeleton also serves as the body’s “calcium bank,” storing calcium when levels in the blood circulation are adequate and pulling calcium from the bones when blood levels of calcium drop too low.

For further discussion of the structures and functions of the musculoskeletal system, please see the overview section “The Musculoskeletal System.”


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