How Many Bones in the Human Body ?
How many bones in the human body ? is a common question and required knowledge of students taking many courses in subjects such as human biology, human anatomy & physiology and health science subjects such as nursing and various therapies.
There are 206 named bones a normal, complete, adult human skeleton.
However, individual people / skeletons can have more than 206 bones including various small un-named bones that have formed, typically in high-friction areas of the body.
List the 206 bones in the human body
It might be easier to learn the names of the bones of the human skeleton in these two groups than to try to remember one list of 206 human bones.
List of the 80 bones of the Axial Skeleton:
List of the 126 bones of the Appendicular Skeleton:
The tables above indicate that:
There are 80 named bones in the axial skeleton.
There are 126 named bones in the appendicular skeleton.
Therefore, there are 80 + 126 = 206 named bones in the human skeleton.
What about the un-named bones in the human skeleton ?
How many un-named bones are present and where are they ?
Sesamoid bones and sutural bones are mentioned on the page about the different types of bones in the human skeleton.
- Sesamoid bones develop in some tendons in locations in the body where there is much friction, tension, and physical stress e.g. in the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet.
- Sutural bones are tiny un-named bones found only within the sutural joints between cranial bones (a 'suture' is an immovable joint whose only location in the human body is between the cranial bones of the skull). There are many sutures, the most prominent being the coronal suture, the sagittal suture, the lambdoid suture and the squamous suture.
Apart from the patellae (also known as 'kneecaps'), which are the only named sesamoid bones in the human body, the number and location of sesamoid and sutural bones in the skeleton varies considerably from person to person. It may also change over a person's lifetime e.g. if someone changes from having a sedentary lifestyle to one invloving much manual labour and, as a result, develops additional sesamoid bones in his hands.
So, how to answer the exam question: How many bones are in the human body ?
Take into account the maximum number of marks available. If only one mark is available for that part of the question, the expected answer may be short and simple, e.g. "206 named bones".
There is no need to name or list all the bones or to label them on a diagram unless asked to do so.
In the cases of longer questions e.g. including several parts and with more marks available, credit may be given for distinguishing between named and un-named bones and explaining that the minimum number of bones in the human body is 206, which is the total number of named bones.
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