List of bones of the human skeleton

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The human skeleton of an adult consists of around 206 bones, depending on the counting of sternum (which may alternatively be included as the manubrium, body of sternum, and the xiphoid process).[1] It is composed of 270 bones at the time of birth,[2] but later decreases to 206: 80 bones in the axial skeleton and 126 bones in the appendicular skeleton. Many small accessory bones, such as sesamoid bones, are not included in this count.


As a person ages, some bones fuse, a process which typically lasts until sometime within the third decade of life. Therefore, the number of bones in an individual may be evaluated differently throughout a lifetime. In addition, the bones of the skull and face are counted as separate bones, despite being fused naturally. Some reliable sesamoid bones such as the pisiform are counted, while others, such as the hallux sesamoids, are not.

Individuals may have more or fewer bones than the average (even accounting for developmental stage) owing to anatomical variations. The most common variations include sutural (wormian) bones, which are located along the sutural lines on the back of the skull, and sesamoid bones which develop within some tendons, mainly in the hands and feet. Some individuals may also have additional (i.e., supernumerary) cervical ribs or lumbar vertebrae. Amputations or other injuries may result in the loss of bones. Complete bone fractures may split one bone into multiple pieces. Other genetic conditions may result in abnormally higher (e.g. polydactyly or conjoined twins) or lower (e.g. oligodactyly) counts of bones.


The axial skeleton, comprising the spine, chest and head, contains 80 bones. The appendicular skeleton, comprising the arms and legs, including the shoulder and pelvic girdles, contains 126 bones, bringing the total for the entire skeleton to 206 bones. Infants are born with about 270 bones[3] with most of it being cartilage, but will later fuse together and decrease over time to 206 bones.

Spine (vertebral column)[edit]

Human skeleton front en.svg

A fully grown adult features 26 bones in the spine, whereas a child can have 34.

Chest (thorax)[edit]

Various bones of the human skeletal system.

There are 25 bones in the chest. The chest contains cartilage for the lungs to fill with air.

  • Sternum (1 or 3 bones. It is counted as 1 in this article.)
  • Ribs (24, in 12 pairs)


There are 23 bones in the skull. Including the bones of the middle ear and the hyoid bone, the head contains 29 bones.

Upper limb (arm and forearm) and hand[edit]

There are a total of 64 bones in the arms, 32 in each arm

Pelvis (pelvic girdle)[edit]

The pelvis (or hip bone) is made up of three regions that have fused to form two coxal bones. They are the ilium, ischium, and pubis.

  • The sacrum and coccyx attach to the two hip bones to form the pelvis, but are more important to the spinal column, where they are counted.

The pelvis is one of two bones used to determine the sex of a skeleton, which is determined by examining the size of the greater sciatic notch (also known as the pelvic opening).

Lower limb (thigh and leg) and foot[edit]

There are a total of 60 bones in the legs.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Human Body (206). Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  2. ^ Mammal anatomy : an illustrated guide. New York: Marshall Cavendish. 2010. p. 129. ISBN 9780761478829.
  3. ^ Mammal anatomy : an illustrated guide. New York: Marshall Cavendish. 2010. p. 129. ISBN 9780761478829.