How many bones, in total, are in the human body?
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)
inferior nasal conchae (2), Lacrimal (2), mandible (1), maxillae (2), nasal bones (2), palatine bones (2), vomer (1) zygomatic (2)
|Ossicles (auditory ossicles) middle ear|
malleus (2), incus (2), stapes (2), aka. hammer, anvil, and stirrup.
|Hyoid bone (lingual bone) neck||1|
|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|
|Sternum (3 sections counted as 1)||1|
Forensic Anthropology, P.Brn, pp.49-51
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