A Few Fun Facts About Bones!
January 26, 2018
Did you know that only 10% of animals in the world are vertebrates? That means that only 10% of animals have a skeletal system, and humans are one of them! Bones are more interesting than they seem. Starting at the classroom skeleton during middle school probably didn’t excite you much, but some of these fun facts might. It’s not all fun, of course. Some of this information will help you to better understand what your skeleton is doing, how things can go wrong, and how to keep your bones happy.
How Many Bones You Have, And Where They’re Located
This fact you probably knew already: the adult body has 206 bones. But do you know how many bones a baby’s body has? A baby’s body has roughly 300 bones. We don’t lose bones, though — you don’t have to worry about pieces of your child randomly falling out. Instead, some bones that aren’t fully formed at birth grow together over time. The skull for example. The reason a baby’s head has a soft spot is that the bones in their head have yet to fuse together. And it’s a good thing, too: if these bones were already fused, birth would be even more difficult than it is already.
And do you know where those 206 bones actually are? Most of them are in your hands and feet! Each of your hands has roughly 27 bones, including your wrist, which is just barely more than the 26 in each of your feet. All combined, there are 106 bones in your hands and feet, accounting for just over half of the bones in your body.
You might also think that there is an extra bone in your elbow — the funny bone. In actuality, the funny bone isn’t a bone at all. It’s the ulnar nerve, which when hit triggers a tingly pain. Teeth, on the other hand, are bones. While most people know they’re made of bone, few people know that your teeth are actually connected to your skeleton.
People also know the old folk song, “Dem Bones.” If I say, “the foot bones connected to the,” you can’t help but to complete it. In fact, you may be able to figure out how most major bones are connected simply by recalling that song. You might miss out on one, though: the hyoid. That’s because the hyoid bone isn’t connected to any other bone at all. This little, V-shaped bone is found at the base of the tongue, completely separate from the rest of the skeletal system.
You might also believe that women have an extra rib: they do not. Both men and women have 24 ribs, although some people are born with one or two extra. This can be extremely painful and lead to complications, so it’s often taken out. There’s a pretty big difference between a male skeleton, and a female skeleton, though. A woman’s pelvis is pointed and shaped in a way that helps with childbirth. If both sexes had the male pelvis, it would get crushed.
Big and Small, Strong and Weak
Bones are fairly strong: the smallest bone in your body can support several tons. That smallest bone is the stapes, which is inside the middle ear. The femur, or thigh bone, is the strongest singular bone in the human body, and also the strongest. The thigh bone is stronger than concrete — and it’s hollow. Your teeth can do more damage, though. With the help of enamel, teeth are actually capable of producing more force than any other bone.
Bones also grow for a very long time. They will continue to grow in length until late puberty and can fuse over time. Growth plates are groups of soft tissue on the ends of larger bones, which allow them to grow and fuse as need be. Eventually, these will harden up. For example, the skull will fuse together and begin to grow as one bone not long after birth. Bones are always replenishing, even after they’re done growing. Like taste buds, the cells in your bones replace themselves entirely once every 7 years or so. That means you had an entirely different skeleton 7 years ago!
Arms are the most commonly broken bones: they’re responsible for almost half of all adult bone breaks. For children, the damage is a little worse: they’re most often hospitalized for a broken collarbone. Bones are tough. Many, like the femur, are designed to handle more than 3 times your body weight. The average femur can withstand just under 900 pounds of force before breaking.
Bones are also prepared to handle the worst. If a bone breaks or fractures, it will immediately start healing. Of course, a brace or cast helps the bone to grow in the right place (and something for the pain can’t hurt), so you should always seek medical attention.