Bone Trivia For your Anatomy and Physiology Course

Published on 5th March 2021


If you’ve been enjoying regular online quizzes during lockdown, you will probably have come up against the ‘bones’ question. Ever popular, the answer, of course, is 206.

The question? “How many bones in the human body?”

We are all fascinated by bones and no wonder, as they offer something for everyone, particularly those studying anatomy & physiology. Whether you’re interested in architecture, internal structure, mechanics or development, there is a bone for you.

Those 206 bones can be divided into five groups, categorised by their shape:

1. Long bones (90)

As implied by their name, these bones are longer than they are wide. They have a long, thin shaft and two ends; the best shape to act as levers for movement.

Long bones include: clavicle, humerus, radius, ulna, metacarpals, phalanges, femur, tibia, fibula, metatarsals and phalanges.

2. Short bones (30)

These are cube-shaped and provide stability and limited movement within the wrists and ankles.

Short bones include: carpal bones and tarsal bones.

3. Flat bones (38)

These bones have broad, flat surfaces which act as protection for internal organs or attachment surfaces for muscles.

Flat bones include: cranial bones, sternum, ribs, scapulae and hip bone.

4. Irregular bones (46)

These bones are so named as they have complex shapes, unlike any of the shapes above. They typically act as protectors.

Irregular bones include: vertebrae, sacrum, coccyx, facial bones and hyoid.

5. Sesamoid bones (2)

These bones are embedded within tendons and help to ensure smooth operation of the joint, effectively reducing wear and tear. They are described as resembling a sesame seed, thus the unusual name.

The patella, or knee cap, is the best example of a sesamoid bone.

Before you head back to your quiz brimming with confidence, beware - some consider that the adult body has up to 213 bones. This is because there are also sesamoid bones in the hands, wrists and feet. However, these vary person to person and so are usually omitted from the grand total.

And finally, two fun facts for future quizzes - the largest bone in the body is the femur and the smallest is the stapes in the middle ear.

Good luck, and may the best team win!


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