Overview of the Human Skeleton & the Functions of Bones

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  • 0:42 Support
  • 1:19 Protection
  • 2:05 Movement
  • 2:50 Storage
  • 3:42 Making Red Blood Cells
  • 4:20 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

The human skeleton is the framework of the body. This frame is made up of 206 bones that do much more than let you stand up. Learn how your bones provide support, protection, movement and storage and one other function that is sure to surprise you!

Human Skeleton

Inside your body, there is a structure so perfectly designed and constructed that it puts modern skyscrapers to shame. I am talking about your skeleton, which is the internal framework of your body. This tower of bones is pieced together so perfectly that you can stand upright and walk on two legs. Without it, we would slither along on the ground like a worm.

When you were born, you had about 300 bones, but some of those bones fused together as you got older. By the time you are an adult, your skeleton will consist of 206 bones. Let's take a look at five things your bones do for you.


The first function we'll talk about is the one that separates you from a worm; in other words, the bones of your skeleton provide support. The bones in your feet and legs are the foundation of your body and support the weight of your body when you're standing. The bones that make up your rib cage support your chest cavity and keep it open so your heart and lungs have room to work. All of the bones together support your muscles by giving them the framework to attach to, just like the framework of your house gives the walls something to hold them up.


Another function of your bones is that they provide protection. Your bones are very hard and strong, which makes them great protectors of the soft and delicate organs of your body, like your brain. Your skull has bones that are fused together so tightly it's almost like they are glued in place. This provides a solid fortress that shields your brain from injury.

The vertebrae are the bones that make up your spine or backbone. They are another example of how your bones protect important structures; in this case, your vertebrae protect your spinal cord. We already mentioned that the rib cage supports your chest cavity, and because of this, we see that it protects your heart and lungs from injury.


The third function of your bones deals with movement. Now, you probably know that it's your muscles that contract and relax to make you move, but you wouldn't go anywhere if your muscles weren't attached to and pulling your bones. Skeletal muscles attach to a bone at one end and then cross over a joint to attach to another bone. The first bone acts as an anchor and pulls the other bone toward it by contracting. This creates movement.

For example, when you kick a soccer ball, muscles in the front of your thigh pull the part of your leg below the knee joint forward in a kicking motion. Without your bones, muscles and joints working together, you would be completely stiff and have to waddle to get anywhere.


Now, this fourth function might surprise you if you think of bones as solid structures that never change. In reality, your bones act as storage sheds for things your body needs. The most notable substance that is stored in your bones is calcium. Calcium is a mineral important for strong bones.

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