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Picture showing the number of bones in the full-grown human body as 206

Picture showing the number of bones in the full-grown human body. Infants have over 270.

The Total Number of Bones in the Human Body

What are the total number of bones in the human body? How many bones are there?

Most agree that an adult, full-grown human has 206 distinct bones. However, this number may vary to a slight degree depending on individual interpretation. For example, some sources indicate that there are 208 bones if you consider the three sternum sections. The problem is that depending on how much the bones have fused together it may be difficult to actually distinguish three sternum bones. Since they are not always distinguishable in a large number of cases its best to count the sternum as just one bone. Therefore, you arrive at 206 bones and not 208. Variation also exists with the sacrum and coccyx so it's best to just count each as one.


The number of bones in small children

From the moment we are born our cranial bones begin to ossify (join together and become set). They begin interlocking at the sutures by about the age of two. That is why babies and small children will begin life with more bones in their bodies (over 270) compared to a full-grown adult. As you grow your bones begin to fuse together and that's how you end up with fewer bones in adulthood. Bones continue to grow even past the age of twenty. This is primarily the case for the facial region due to the continued emergence of teeth.

Fun Fact: Human Osteology = The study of bones and teeth.

The purpose of bones

The skeleton forms the framework for the human body and performs some very important functions like support (provides a framework for the body), protection (covers vital organs, e.g. sternum, ribs), hematopoiesis (vital role in generating blood cells) and storage (stores minerals the body needs). The skeleton is held together by flexible tissues consisting of cartilage and ligaments.

Bone Names Number of Bones
Cranial Bones (cranium) skull
ethmoid bone (1), frontal bone (1), occipital bone (1) , parietal bones (2), sphenoid bone (1), temporal (2)
8
Facial Skeleton
inferior nasal conchae (2), Lacrimal (2), mandible (1), maxillae (2), nasal bones (2), palatine bones (2), vomer (1) zygomatic (2)
14
Ossicles (auditory ossicles) middle ear
malleus (2), incus (2), stapes (2), aka. hammer, anvil and stirrup.
6
Hyoid bone (lingual bone) neck 1
section total 29
Cervical vertebrae (C1 to C7) 7
Thoracic vertebrae (Th1 to Th12) 12
Lumbar vertebrae (L1 to L5) 5
Sacrum (counted as 1 but ranges from 4-6 and with age variation) 1
Coccyx (counted as 1 but ranges from 3-5) 1
section total 26
Ribs 24
Sternum (3 sections counted as 1) 1
Clavicle 2
Scapula 2
section total 29
Humerus 2
Radius 2
Ulna 2
section total 6
Carpals 16
Metacarpals 10
Phalanges 28
section total 54
Hip bone 2
section total 2
Femur 2
Patella 2
Tibia 2
Fibula 2
section total 8
Tarsals 14
Metatarsals 10
Phalanges 28
section total 52
grand total 206

References:

Forensic Anthropology, P.Brn, pp.49-51
Illustration, creative commons
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coccyx


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