“If you can’t get rid of the skeleton in your closet, you’d best teach it to dance.” George Bernard Shaw
A skeleton is the supporting structure of an organism and two types can be identified: the exoskeleton (outer part) and the endoskeleton (support structure inside the body).
Exoskeletons can be found in many invertebrates and they protect the soft tissues and organs. They are made of different materials, depending on the organism. In arthropods (spiders, shrimps, insects) they are made of chitin, in diatoms (algae) and radiolarians (zooplankton) of silicate and in corals and mollusks (snails, slugs, clams) of calcium compounds. The exoskeleton serves as protection, watertight protection against drying, as a surface for muscle attachment and as a sense organ. Since exoskeletons are heavy relative to the overall mass of the organism, animals that have such a skeleton are usually relatively small.
Endoskeletons can be found in many vertebrates and are made of mineralized tissue. They serve as support, mechanism for transmitting muscular forces and as a surface for muscle attachment.
The human skeleton has individual and fused bones (pelvis and cranium). It protects organs like the lungs, heart, brain and spinal cord and supports organs and muscles. The biggest bone in our body is the femur (upper leg) and the smallest is the stapes bone in the middle ear. Teeth, although not made of tissue found in other bones, are bones and are part of the human skeleton.
A newborn baby has about 300-350 bones and an adult human skeleton about 206. This reduction in number is due to the fact that many bones fuse together as the infant grows. More than half of our bones (106) can be found in the hands and feet.
Bone marrow is produced in the interior of bones. It is flexible tissue and produces red (the organism´s principal way of delivering oxygen to the body tissues) and white (the blood cells that defend the body against infectious diseases and foreign invaders) blood cells and platelets (the blood cells whose function it is to stop bleeding).
- the structure of bones that supports the body of a person or animal
- a set or model of all the bones in the body of a person
- a very thin person or animal (source: Merriam Webster).
The English word skeleton comes from Modern Latin skeleton, bones/bony framework of the body, from Greek σκελετός (skeletos), dried-up body/mummy/skeleton, from the Proto Indo European root *skele-, to parch/wither.
Skeleton in other languages:
Spanish: el esquelético
Italian: lo scheletro