Bennett, M. B. University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.
Last reviewed:September 2018
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- Human skeleton
- Development of the skeleton
- Vertebrate skeletal anatomy
- Axial skeleton
- Appendicular skeleton
- Locomotion and skeletal adaptations
- Skeletal strength and size
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
The supporting tissues of an animal that serve to protect the body, or parts of it, and play an important role in physiology. The skeletal system, often termed skeleton, encompasses the anatomical structures composed of bone and cartilage, or a combination of both, which provide a framework for the body and serve as attachment for muscles. Skeletons can be divided into two main types based on the relative position of the skeletal tissues. When these tissues are located external to the soft parts, the animal is said to have an exoskeleton. If they occur deep within the body, they form an endoskeleton. All vertebrate animals possess an endoskeleton (Fig. 1), but most also have components that are exoskeletal in origin. Invertebrate skeletons, however, show far more variation in position, morphology, and materials used to construct them. See also: Bone; Cartilage; Muscle; Muscular system; Vertebrata
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