Objectives part 1: the axial skeleton

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7: The Skeleton



1. Name the major parts of the axial and appendicular skeletons and describe their relative functions.

The Skull

2. Name, describe, and identify the skull bones. Identify their important markings.

3. Compare and contrast the major functions of the cranium and the facial skeleton.

4. Define the bony boundaries of the orbits, nasal cavity, and paranasal sinuses.

The Vertebral Column

5. Describe the structure of the vertebral column, list its components, and describe its curvatures.

6. Indicate a common function of the spinal curvatures and the intervertebral discs.

7. Discuss the structure of a typical vertebra and describe the regional features of cervical, thoracic, and lumbar vertebrae.

The Thoracic Cage

8. Name and describe the bones of the thoracic cage (bony thorax).

9. Differentiate true from false ribs.

Part 2: The Appendicular Skeleton

The Pectoral (Shoulder) Girdle

10. Identify bones forming the pectoral girdle and relate their structure and arrangement to the function of this girdle.

11. Identify important bone markings on the pectoral girdle.

The Upper Limb

12. Identify or name the bones of the upper limb and their important markings.

The Pelvic (Hip) Girdle

13. Name the bones contributing to the os coxae and relate the pelvic girdle’s strength to its function.

14. Describe differences in the male and female pelves and relate these to functional differences.

The Lower Limb

15. Identify the lower limb bones and their important markings.

16. Name the arches of the foot and explain their importance.

Developmental Aspects of the Skeleton

17. Define fontanelles and indicate their significance.

18. Describe how skeletal proportions change through life.

19. Discuss how age-related skeletal changes may affect health.

Outline of Chapter


I. The Skull (pp. 199–216; Figs. 7.1–7.15; Table 7.1)

A. The skull consists of 22 cranial and facial bones that form the framework of the face, contain cavities for special sense organs, provide openings for air and food passage, secure the teeth, and anchor muscles of facial expression (p. 200).

B. Except for the mandible, which is joined to the skull by a movable joint, most skull bones are flat bones joined by interlocking joints called sutures (p. 200).

C. Overview of Skull Geography (p. 200)

1. The anterior aspect of the skull is formed by facial bones, and the remainder is formed by a cranium, which is divided into the cranial vault, or calvaria, and cranial base.

2. The cavities of the skull include the cranial cavity (houses the brain), ear cavities, nasal cavity, and orbits (house the eyeballs).

3. The skull has about 85 named openings that provide passageways for the spinal cord, major blood vessels serving the brain, and the cranial nerves.

D. The cranium consists of eight strong, superiorly curved bones (pp. 199–209; Figs. 7.2–7.10).

1. The frontal bone articulates posteriorly with the parietal bones via the coronal suture, extends forward to the supraorbital margins, and extends posteriorly to form the superior wall of the orbits and most of the anterior cranial fossa.

2. The parietal bones are two large, rectangular bones on the superior and lateral aspects of the skull, which form the majority of the cranial vault.

a. The four largest sutures of the skull are located where the parietal bones articulate with other bones: the coronal, sagittal, lambdoid, and squamous sutures.

3. The occipital bone articulates with the parietal, temporal, and sphenoid bones, forming most of the posterior wall and base of the skull.

a. The foramen magnum, a large opening through which the brain connects to the spinal cord, is located in the base of the occipital bone.

4. The temporal bones articulate with the parietal bones and form the inferolateral aspects of the skull and parts of the cranial floor.

a. The temporal bone is characterized by the mandibular fossa, which forms part of the temporomandibular joint, and the external auditory meatus and petrous, which house the ear.

5. The sphenoid bone spans the width of the middle cranial fossa, and articulates with all other cranial bones.

6. The ethmoid bone lies between the sphenoid and nasal bones, and forms most of the bony area between the nasal cavity and the orbits.

7. Sutural, or Wormian, bones are groups of irregularly shaped bones or bone clusters located within sutures that vary in number and are not present on all skulls.

E. Facial Bones (pp. 209–211; Fig. 7.11)

1. The mandible, or lower jawbone, articulates with the mandibular fossae of the temporal bones via the mandibular condyles to form the temporomandibular joint.

2. The maxillary bones form the upper jaw and central portion of the face, articulating with all other facial bones except the mandible.

3. The zygomatic bones articulate with temporal, frontal, and maxillary bones, and form the prominences of the cheeks and parts of the inferolateral margins of the orbits.

4. The nasal bones form the bridge of the nose, and articulate with the frontal, maxillary, and ethmoid bones, along with the cartilages that form most of the skeleton of the external nose.

5. The lacrimal bones are located in the medial wall of the orbits, and articulate with the frontal, ethmoid, and maxillary bones.

6. The palatine bones consist of bony plates that complete the posterior portion of the hard palate, form part of the posterolateral walls of the nasal cavity, and small parts of the orbits.

7. The vomer lies in the nasal cavity, where it forms part of the nasal septum.

8. The inferior nasal conchae are thin, curved bones in the nasal cavity that project medially from the lateral walls of the nasal cavity.

F. The hyoid bone lies inferior to the mandible in the anterior neck. It is the only bone that does not articulate directly with any other bone (p. 211; Fig. 7.12).

G. Special Characteristics of the Orbits and Nasal Cavity (pp. 211–216; Fig. 7.13)

1. The orbits are bony cavities that contain the eyes, muscles that move the eyes, and tear-producing glands. They consist of the frontal, sphenoid, zygomatic, maxilla, palatine, lacrimal, and ethmoid bones.

2. The nasal cavity is constructed of bone and hyaline cartilage, and is formed by the ethmoid, maxillary, and palatine bones, as well as the inferior nasal conchae. It is divided into right and left parts by the nasal septum, which consists of portions of the ethmoid bone and vomer.

H. Paranasal sinuses are air-filled sinuses clustered around the nasal cavity that lighten the skull and enhance resonance of the voice (p. 216; Figs. 7.14–7.15).

II. The Vertebral Column (pp. 216–221; Figs. 7.16–7.21; Table 7.2)

A. General Characteristics (pp. 216–218; Figs. 7.16–7.17)

1. The vertebral column consists of 26 irregular bones, forming a flexible, curved structure extending from the skull to the pelvis that surrounds and protects the spinal cord. It provides attachment for ribs and muscles of the neck and back.

2. Divisions and Curvatures

a. The vertebrae of the spine fall in five major divisions: seven cervical, twelve thoracic, five lumbar, five fused vertebrae of the sacrum, and four fused vertebrae of the coccyx.

b. The curvatures of the spine increase resiliency and flexibility of the spine.

c. The cervical and lumbar curvatures are concave posteriorly, and the thoracic and sacral curvatures are convex posteriorly.

3. The major supporting ligaments of the spine are the anterior and posterior longitudinal ligaments, which run as continuous bands down the front and back surfaces of the spine. They support the spine and prevent hyperflexion and hyperextension.

4. Intervertebral discs are cushionlike pads that act as shock absorbers and allow the spine to flex, extend, and bend laterally.

B. General Structure of Vertebrae (p. 219; Fig. 7.18)

1. Each vertebra consists of an anterior body and a posterior vertebral arch that, together with the body, form the vertebral foramen through which the spinal cord passes.

2. The vertebral arch consists of two pedicles and two laminae, which collectively give rise to several projections: a median spinous process, two lateral transverse processes, and paired superior and inferior articular processes.

3. The pedicles have notches on their superior and inferior borders called intervertebral foramina, which provide openings for the passage of spinal nerves.

C. Regional Vertebral Characteristics (pp. 219–223; Figs. 7.19–7.21; Table 7.2)

1. Cervical vertebrae are the smallest vertebrae. They typically have an oval body, a short, bifid spinous process, a large, triangular vertebral foramen, and a transverse foramen.

a. The atlas has no body or spinous process. It has articular facets on the superior and inferior surface that articulate with the skull superiorly, and the second cervical vertebra, the axis, inferiorly.

b. The second cervical vertebra has a body, spine, and other typical vertebral processes, as well as a knoblike dens, or odontoid process, projecting superiorly from the body.

2. Thoracic vertebrae all articulate with ribs, and gradually transition between cervical structure at the top, and lumbar structure toward the bottom.

a. Thoracic vertebrae have a roughly heart-shaped body, which bear two facets on each side for rib articulation: a circular vertebral foramen and superior and inferior articular processes.

3. Lumbar vertebrae are large vertebrae that have kidney-shaped bodies, a triangular vertebral foramen, short, thick pedicles and laminae, and short, flat, hatchet-shaped spinous processes.

4. The sacrum forms the posterior wall of the pelvis. It is formed by five, fused vertebrae in adults, and articulates with the fifth lumbar vertebra superiorly, the coccyx inferiorly, and the hip bones laterally via the sacroiliac joint.

a. The vertebral canal continues through the sacrum, often ending at a large external opening, the sacral hiatus.

5. The coccyx (tailbone) is a small bone consisting of four, fused vertebrae that articulate superiorly with the sacrum.

III. The Thoracic Cage (pp. 223–225; Figs. 7.22–7.23)

A. The thoracic cage consists of the thoracic vertebrae dorsally, the ribs laterally, and the sternum and costal cartilages anteriorly. It forms a protective cage around the organs of the thoracic cavity, and provides support for the shoulder girdles and upper limbs (pp. 223–224; Fig. 7.22).

B. Sternum (pp. 223–224; Fig. 7.22)

1. The sternum (breastbone) lies in the anterior midline of the thorax, and is a flat bone resulting from the fusion of three bones: the manubrium, body, and xiphoid process.

2. The manubrium articulates with the clavicles and the first two pairs of ribs. The body articulates with the cartilages of ribs two through seven. The xiphoid process forms the inferior end, articulating only with the body.

C. Ribs (pp. 224–225; Figs. 7.22–7.23)

1. The sides of the thoracic cage are formed by twelve pairs of ribs that attach posteriorly to the thoracic vertebrae and curve inferiorly toward the anterior body surface.

2. The superior seven pairs of ribs are called true, or vertebrosternal, ribs. They attach directly to the sternum via individual costal cartilages.

3. The lower five pairs of ribs are called false ribs. They either attach indirectly to the sternum or lack a sternal attachment entirely.


IV. The Pectoral (Shoulder) Girdle (pp. 225–228; Figs. 7.24–7.25; Table 7.3)

A. The pectoral (shoulder) girdle consists of the clavicle, which joins the sternum anteriorly, and the scapula, which is attached to the posterior thorax and vertebrae via muscular attachments (pp. 225–226; Fig. 7.24).

1. The pectoral girdle is very light and has a high degree of mobility due to the openness of the shoulder joint and the free movement of the scapula across the thorax.

B. The clavicles (collarbones) extend horizontally across the thorax, articulating medially with the sternum, and laterally with the scapula, bracing the arms and scapulae laterally (p. 226; Fig. 7.24).

C. The scapulae (shoulder blades) are thin, flat bones that lie on the dorsal surface of the rib cage, articulating with the humerus via the glenoid cavity, and the clavicle via the acromion (pp. 226–228; Fig. 7.25).

V. The Upper Limb (pp. 228–233; Figs. 7.26–7.28; Table 7.3)

A. Arm (p. 228; Fig. 7.26)

1. The arm is the region extending from shoulder to elbow, and has one bone, the humerus.

2. The humerus is the largest, longest bone of the upper limb. It articulates with the scapula at the shoulder, and with the radius and ulna at the elbow.

B. Forearm (pp. 228–231; Fig. 7.27)

1. The forearm is the region between the elbow and wrist. It consists of two bones, the ulna and the radius.

2. The ulna forms the elbow joint with the humerus. It articulates with the radius laterally at the proximal end, and articulates with the bones of the wrist via a cartilage disc at the distal end.

3. The radius articulates with the humerus and the ulna medially at the proximal end via a flattened head. It articulates with the carpals of the wrist and the ulna medially at the distal end.

C. Hand (pp. 231–233; Fig. 7.28)

1. The carpus (wrist) consists of eight short bones arranged in two irregular rows of four bones each: the scaphoid, lunate, triquetrum, and pisiform proximally; and the trapezium, trapezoid, capitate, and hamate distally.

2. The metacarpus (palm) consists of five small, long bones numbering one through five from thumb to little finger. It articulates with the carpals proximally, and the proximal phalanges distally.

3. There are 14 phalanges of the fingers: the thumb (pollex) is digit 1, and has two phalanges. The other fingers, numbered 2–5, have three phalanges each.

VI. The Pelvic (Hip) Girdle (pp. 233–237; Figs. 7.29–7.30; Tables 7.4–7.5)

A. The pelvic girdle attaches the lower limbs to the axial skeleton. It is formed by a pair of coxal bones, each consisting of three separate bones: the ischium, ilium, and pubis, that are fused in adults (pp. 233–235; Fig. 7.29).

B. The ilium forms the superior region of the coxal bone. It articulates with the sacrum, forming the sacroiliac joint, and also with the ischium and pubis anteriorly (pp. 234–235; Figs. 7.29–7.30).

C. The ischium forms the posteroinferior portion of the coxa (pp. 234–235; Figs. 7.29–7.30).

D. The pubic bones form the anterior portion of the coxae. They are joined by a fibrocartilage disc, forming the midline pubic symphysis (pp. 234–235; Figs. 7.29–7.30).

E. Pelvic Structure and Childbearing (pp. 235–237; Table 7.4)

1. The female pelvis is modified for childbearing. It tends to be wider, shallower, lighter, and rounder than the male pelvis.

2. The pelvis consists of a false pelvis, which is part of the abdomen and helps support the viscera, and a true pelvis, which is completely surrounded by bone and contains the pelvic organs.

VII. The Lower Limb (pp. 237–241; Figs. 7.31–7.34; Table 7.5)

A. Thigh (p. 237; Fig. 7.31)

1. The thigh is the region between the hip and knee. It has one bone, the femur.

2. The femur is the largest, longest, and strongest bone in the body. It articulates proximally with the hip via a ball-like head, and distally with the knee at the lateral and medial condyles.

3. The patella is a triangular sesamoid bone that articulates with the femur at the patellar surface.

B. Leg (pp. 237–240; Fig. 7.32)

1. The leg is the region between the knee and ankle. It has two bones, the tibia and fibula.

2. The tibia is the weight-bearing bone of the leg. It is characterized proximally by the medial and lateral condyles that articulate with the femur, and distally by the medial malleolus, an inferior projection on the medial aspect that articulates with the talus.

3. The fibula is a sticklike, non-weight-bearing bone. It has expanded ends that articulate proximally via the head and distally via the lateral malleolus with the lateral aspects of the tibia.

C. Foot (pp. 240–241; Figs. 7.33–7.34)

1. The tarsus consists of seven tarsal bones that make up the posterior half of the foot and includes the calcaneus, talus, cuboid, navicular, and medial, intermediate, and lateral cuneiform bones.

2. The metatarsus consists of five small, long bones called metatarsal bones numbered 1 to 5 beginning on the medial side of the foot.

3. There are 14 phalanges of the toes: the great toe (hallux) is digit 1 and has two phalanges. The other toes, numbered 2–5, have three phalanges each.

4. The arches of the foot are maintained by interlocking foot bones, ligaments, and the pull of tendons during muscle activity.

VIII. Developmental Aspects of the Skeleton (pp. 242–244; Figs. 7.35–7.38)

A. Membrane bones of the skull begin to ossify late in the second month of development (p. 242).

B. At birth, skull bones are connected by fontanelles, unossified remnants of fibrous membranes (p. 242; Fig. 7.35).

C. Changes in cranial-facial proportions and fusion of bones occur throughout childhood (p. 243; Fig. 7.33).

1. At birth, the cranium is much larger than the face, and several bones are still unfused.

2. By nine months, the cranium is half the adult size due to rapid brain growth.

3. By age 8–9, the cranium has reached almost adult proportions.

4. Between ages 6–13, the jaws, cheekbones, and nose become more prominent, due to expansion of the nose, paranasal sinuses, and development of permanent teeth.

D. Curvatures of the Spine (pp. 243–244; Fig. 7.37)

1. The primary curvatures (thoracic and sacral curvatures) are convex posteriorly and are present at birth.

2. The secondary curvatures (cervical and lumbar curvatures) are convex anteriorly and are associated with the child’s development.

3. The secondary curvatures result from reshaping the intervertebral discs.

E. Changes in body height and proportion occur throughout childhood (p. 244; Fig. 7.38).

1. At birth, the head and trunk are roughly 1-1/2 times the length of the lower limbs.

2. The lower limbs grow more rapidly than the trunk, and by age 10, the head and trunk are about the same length as the lower limbs.

3. During puberty, the female pelvis widens and the male skeleton becomes more robust.

F. Effects of old age on the skeleton (p. 244).

1. The intervertebral discs become thinner, less hydrated, and less elastic.

2. The thorax becomes more rigid, due to calcification of the costal cartilages.

3. All bones lose bone mass.

Laboratory Correlations

1. Marieb, E. N., and S. J. Mitchell. Human Anatomy & Physiology Laboratory Manual: Main Version. Eighth Edition Update. Benjamin Cummings, 2009.

Exercise 10: The Axial Skeleton

Exercise 11: The Appendicular Skeleton

Exercise 12: The Fetal Skeleton

Online Resources for Students



The following shows the organization of the Chapter Guide page in myA&P™. The Chapter Guide organizes all the chapter-specific online media resources for Chapter 7 in one convenient location, with e-book links to each section of the textbook. Students can also access A&P Flix animations, MP3 Tutor Sessions, Interactive Physiology® 10-System Suite, Practice Anatomy Lab™ 2.0, PhysioEx™ 8.0, and much more.


Part 1: The Axial Skeleton

Section 7.1 The Skull (pp. 199–216)

Art Labeling: Anatomy of the Anterior Aspect of the Skull (Fig. 7.4a, p. 202)

Art Labeling: Bones of the Lateral Aspect of the Skull, External View (Fig. 7.5a, p. 203)

Art Labeling: Bones of the Lateral Aspect of the Skull, Internal View (Fig. 7.5b, p. 203)

Art Labeling: Inferior Aspect of the Skull, Mandible Removed (Fig. 7.6a, p. 205)

Art Labeling: The Floor of the Cranial Cavity (Fig. 7.7a, p. 206)

Art Labeling: Bones of the Nasal Cavity (Fig. 7.14a–b, p. 213)

Section 7.2 The Vertebral Column (pp. 216–221)

Section 7.3 The Thoracic Cage (pp. 223–225)

Memory Game: Identification of Axial Skeleton Components

Part 2: The Appendicular Skeleton

Memory Game: Identification of Bones From the Appendicular Skeleton

Section 7.4 The Pectoral (Shoulder) Girdle (pp. 225–228)

Art Labeling: The Pectoral Girdle and Clavicle (Fig. 7.24, p. 226)

Art Labeling: The Scapula (Fig. 7.25a–b, p. 227)

Section 7.5 The Upper Limb (pp. 228–233)

Art Labeling: The Humerus of the Right Arm (Fig. 7.26a–b, p. 229)

Art Labeling: Radius and Ulna of the Right Forearm (Fig. 7.27a–b, p. 230)

Art Labeling: Bones of the Left Hand (Fig. 7.28, p. 231)

Section 7.6 The Pelvic (Hip) Girdle (pp. 233–237)

Art Labeling: Articulated Pelvis (Fig. 7.29, p. 233)

Art Labeling: Bones of the Bony Pelvis (Fig. 7.30a–b, p. 234)

Section 7.7 The Lower Limb (pp. 237–241)

Art Labeling: Bones of the Right Thigh (Fig. 7.31b, p. 238)

Art Labeling: The Tibia and Fibula of the Right Leg (Fig. 7.32a–b, p. 239)

Art Labeling: Bones of the Right Foot, Superior View (Fig. 7.33a, p. 240)

Art Labeling: Bones of the Right Foot, Medial and Lateral Views (Fig. 7.33b–c, p. 240)

Section 7.8 Developmental Aspects of the Skeleton (pp. 242–244)

Chapter Summary

Bone Review

Crossword Puzzle 7.1

Crossword Puzzle 7.2

Web Links

Chapter Quizzes

Art Labeling Quiz

Matching Quiz

Multiple-Choice Quiz

True-False Quiz

Chapter Practice Test

Study Tools

Histology Atlas





Resources in the myA&P™ Chapter Guide are also available in the Chapter Contents section of the CourseCompass™. Students can also access A&P Flix animations, MP3 Tutor Sessions, Interactive Physiology® 10-System Suite, Practice Anatomy Lab™ 2.0, PhysioEx™ 8.0, and much more.

Answers to End-of-Chapter Questions

Multiple Choice and Matching Question answers appear in Appendix G of the main text.

Short Answer Essay Questions

4. Cranial bones: parietal, temporal, frontal, occipital, sphenoid, and ethmoid. Facial bones: mandible, vomer, maxillae, zygomatics, nasals, lacrimals, palatines, and inferior conchae. Cranial bones provide sites for attachment and enclose and protect the brain. The facial bones form the framework of the face, hold eyes in position, provide cavities for organs of taste and smell, secure the teeth, and anchor facial muscles. (pp. 200–211; Table 7.1)

5. At birth, the skull is huge relative to the facial skeleton. During childhood and adolescence, the face grows out from the skull. By adulthood, the cranial and facial skeletons are the appropriate proportional size. (p. 243)

6. Normal curves are: cervical, thoracic, lumbar, and sacral. The thoracic and sacral are primary; the cervical and lumbar are secondary. (pp. 216–217)

7. Cervical vertebrae possess transverse foramina, have small bodies and bifid spinous processes; thoracic vertebrae possess facets for the ribs and have circular vertebral foramina; lumbar vertebrae have massive bodies and blunt spines. (pp. 219–220; Table 7.2)

8. The discs act as shock absorbers and allow the spine to flex and extend (provide flexibility). (p. 218)

9. The annulus fibrosis, composed of fibrocartilage, is more external and contains the nucleus pulposus. The nucleus is the semifluid substance enclosed by the annulus. The annulus provides strength and durability. The nucleus provides resilience. Disc herniation involves protrusion of the nucleus pulposus through the annulus. (p. 218)

10. a. True rib: attached at both ends directly; false rib: attached at vertebrae directly, sternum indirectly.

b. A floating rib is a false rib. (p. 224)

11. The pelvic girdle functions to attach and transfer the weight of the body to the lower limbs. The bones are large, strong, and securely attach the bones of the thigh to the axial skeleton. The pectoral girdle bones are light and quite mobile to provide flexibility at the expense of strength and stability. (pp. 225, 233)

12. The female pelvis inlet and outlet are wider; the pelvis is shallower, lighter, and rounder than that of the male; and the ischial tuberosities are farther apart. (p. 235; Table 7.4)

13. Both cleft palate and hip dysplasia are congenital abnormalities affecting skeletal formation. A cleft palate occurs if the fusion of the midline of the maxilla fails to occur. Problems may range from simple cosmetic abnormality to a complete lack of separation of the nasal and oral cavities. In such a case, the infant will have difficulty taking in food, and may even aspirate it, due to a lack of a palate to regulate breathing and swallowing. Hip dysplasia occurs if the acetabulum fails to form a complete socket around the head of the femur correctly, or if the ligaments securing the femur at the hip are too loose. The femur may easily slip out of its socket, creating difficulty walking. (p. 243)

14. In a young adult skeleton, the bone mass is dense, water content is normal in discs, the vertebral column is strong. In old age, the discs decline in water content and become thinner and less elastic, the spine shortens and becomes an arc, and all the bones lose mass. The thorax becomes more rigid with increasing age, mainly due to the ossification of costal cartilage. The cranial bones lose less mass with age than most bones, but the facial contours of the aged change. (p. 244)

15. Peter was having a little fun with the obturator foramen, the large opening in the hip bone through which pass some blood vessels and nerves. (p. 235)

Critical Thinking and Clinical Application Questions

1. Justiniano is probably suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome, a nerve impairment common to persons who repeatedly flex their wrists and fingers, often at a computer keyboard. (p. 231)

2. A lateral curvature is scoliosis due to an uneven pull of muscles. Because muscles on one side of the body were nonfunctional, those on the opposite side exerted a stronger pull and forced the spine out of alignment. (p. 217)

3. The fracture of the neck of the femur is usually called a broken hip and is common in the elderly due to osteoporosis, which especially weakens the vertebrae and neck of the femur. (p. 237)

4. Mrs. Shea has developed soreness on her buttock in response to having her entire weight on her ischial tuberosity for three days. If she were to continue this activity for a few more days she would develop pressure sores called decubitus ulcers. (p. 235)

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