This photo shows a boy looking at a museum exhibit that contains two fossilized crocodile skeletons embedded within a large boulder. The skull, spine and forelimbs of one of the crocodiles are visible.

Figure 6.1. Child Looking at Bones
Bone is a living tissue. Unlike the bones of a fossil made inert by a process of mineralization, a child’s bones will continue to grow and develop while contributing to the support and function of other body systems. (credit: James Emery)


Learning Objectives

  • List and describe the functions of bones
  • Describe the gross anatomy and microanatomy of bone
  • Describe the two types of bone tissue
  • Discuss the process of bone formation and development
  • Discuss the process of bone remodeling
  • Identify major bones of the body and their surface markings
  • Identify types of joints
  • Describe the structure of a synovial joint
  • List types of synovial joints and their movements
  • Identify homeostatic imbalances of bones and joints

Bones make good fossils. While the soft tissue of a once living organism will decay and fall away over time, bone tissue will, under the right conditions, undergo a process of mineralization, effectively turning the bone to stone. A well-preserved fossil skeleton can give us a good sense of the size and shape of an organism, just as your skeleton helps to define your size and shape. Unlike a fossil skeleton, however, your skeleton is a structure of living tissue that grows, repairs, and renews itself. The bones within it are dynamic and complex organs that serve a number of important functions, including some necessary to maintain homeostasis.