Osseous Tissue: Function, Definition, and Location

Betsy Chesnutt, Joseph Said
  • Author
    Betsy Chesnutt

    Betsy has a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from the University of Memphis, M.S. from the University of Virginia, and B.S. from Mississippi State University. She has over 10 years of experience developing STEM curriculum and teaching physics, engineering, and biology.

  • Instructor
    Joseph Said
Learn about osseous connective tissue, also known as bone tissue. Study osseous tissue function, see a breakdown of its structure, and find out where it is located. Updated: 10/25/2021

Table of Contents


Osseous Tissue: A Type of Connective Tissue

Osseous tissue is a type of connective tissue that is very hard and strong. What does osseous mean? The root word ost- is derived from the Greek work 'for bone, osteon, so osseous connective tissue is the tissue that makes up bones. It is also often called bone tissue or bone osseous tissue.

What is osseous tissue and what components give it such unique properties? Osseous tissue is primarily composed of proteins like collagen and minerals like calcium phosphate. The presence of calcium phosphate is what makes osseous tissue very hard and able to withstand large loads, like those that are applied when a person runs or jumps. Osseous tissue also contains cells that create, maintain, and resorb osseous tissue to repair damage and allow bones to grow. Blood vessels run through it to provide nourishment to the cells within the tissue.

Osseous tissue is a type of connective tissue. Other types of connective tissue that are important in the skeletal system include cartilage, tendons, and ligaments. However, unlike these other types of connective tissue, the osseous tissue location is always within bones.

Osseous tissue is the hard tissue that makes up bones.

An image of the end of a bone, showing the osseous tissue location in spongy bone and compact bone

Osseous Tissue Function

Osseous tissue has multiple functions. The primary osseous tissue function is to form bones that allow the body to move by providing attachment sites for muscles and tendons. It also provides support for internal structures, protects organs and tissues from damage, and serves as a site of mineral storage.

Bone or Osseous Tissue: Structure

There are two types of osseous bone tissue, known as compact bone and spongy bone.

The structure of bone tissue

An image of the structure bone osseous tissue

Compact Bone

Compact bone is very dense, which makes it strong but also heavy. This type of osseous tissue is found in the shafts of long bones like those found in the arms and legs. In compact bone, osseous tissue is produced in concentric rings to create a structure known as an osteon.

In compact bone, osseous tissue is arranged into concentric rings to form an osteon.

An image of the osseous connective tissue found in compact bone, showing an osteon with an osteocyte in the center

Spongy Bone

In contrast to compact bone, spongy bone is lighter and weaker. It is full of holes connected by narrow plates of osseous tissue, which makes it look like a sponge. Spongy bone is found in the ends of the long bones, as well as in the flat bones like the pelvic bones, shoulder blades, ribs, and skull. The holes in spongy bone are typically filled with bone marrow, which produces both red and white blood cells as well as stem cells.

Cells in Osseous Tissue

Within both spongy bone and compact bone, there are three different types of cells that all play a role in creating and maintaining osseous tissue.

  • Osteoblasts: Cells that create new osseous tissue. The word osteoblast comes from the Greek words osteo, meaning bone, and blast, meaning to grow or form.
  • Osteocytes: Cells that live within osseous tissue. As osteoblasts form new osseous tissue, eventually they become surrounded and turn into osteocytes. Osteocytes live in tiny holes in the tissue known as lacunae.
  • Osteoclasts: Cells that break down bone so that it can be remodeled. They play a critical role in repairing damage and maintaining the tissue.

Osseous & Other Connective Tissue: Relationships

In addition to bone tissue, there are several other types of connective tissue that play critical roles in the skeletal system, including:

  • Cartilage
  • Ligaments
  • Tendons

All of these types of connective tissue are more flexible and elastic than bone, but they are also not as strong as bone tissue. In addition, they do not have a well developed blood supply, so they heal slowly if injured and sometimes are not able to heal at all following severe injuries.


Cartilage is a type of connective tissue that is more flexible than bone. It is found at the ends of long bones, where it helps to reduce friction in joints and make movement easier. It is also found in structures such as the nose and ears, as well as between the vertebrae in the spine. The cartilage at the ends of long bones tends to wear down with age, increasing friction in joints and resulting in pain when moving. This condition is known as osteoarthritis.

Some animals, such as sharks, have an entire skeleton that is constructed from cartilage, and even in humans, babies and young children have bones that are composed primarily of collagen. As they grow up, this tissue becomes more and more ossified until it turns into bone tissue.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is osseous tissue made of?

Osseous tissue is made by cells called osteoblasts. It is composed of proteins such as collagen, along with minerals like calcium phosphate

Where is osseous found in the body?

Osseous tissue is found in all the bones in the body. Long bones contain a type of osseous tissue called compact bone, while flat bones contain spongy bone.

What is the main function of bone tissue?

The main function of bone tissue is to facilitate motion by providing sites for the attachment of connective tissues like ligaments and tendons. It also protects internal organs and serves as a site for storing minerals.

What is bone or osseous tissue?

Osseous tissue, which is also known as bone tissue, is the hard, strong tissue that makes up bones. It is composed of calcium phosphate and contains nerves, blood vessels, and bone cells.

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