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Medicine LibreTexts

7: Appendicular Skeleton

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  • Thumbnail Image Credit: "Skeleton Sitting Smiling " by Clker-Free-Vector-Images is in the Public Domain, CC0

    • 7.1: Introduction to the Appendicular Skeleton
      Because of our upright stance, different functional demands are placed upon the upper and lower limbs. Thus, the bones of the lower limbs are adapted for weight-bearing support and stability, as well as for body locomotion via walking or running. In contrast, our upper limbs are not required for these functions. Instead, our upper limbs are highly mobile and can be utilized for a wide variety of activities.
    • 7.2: The Pectoral Girdle
      The appendicular skeleton includes all of the limb bones, plus the bones that unite each limb with the axial skeleton. The bones that attach each upper limb to the axial skeleton form the pectoral girdle (shoulder girdle). This consists of two bones, the scapula and clavicle. The clavicle (collarbone) is an S-shaped bone located on the anterior side of the shoulder. It is attached on its medial end to the sternum of the thoracic cage, which is part of the axial skeleton.
    • 7.3: Bones of the Upper Limb
      The upper limb is divided into three regions. These consist of the arm, located between the shoulder and elbow joints; the forearm, which is between the elbow and wrist joints; and the hand, which is located distal to the wrist. There are 30 bones in each upper limb. The humerus is the single bone of the upper arm, and the ulna (medially) and the radius (laterally) are the paired bones of the forearm.
    • 7.4: The Pelvic Girdle and Pelvis
      The pelvic girdle (hip girdle) is formed by a single bone, the hip bone or coxal bone (coxal = “hip”), which serves as the attachment point for each lower limb. Each hip bone, in turn, is firmly joined to the axial skeleton via its attachment to the sacrum of the vertebral column. The right and left hip bones also converge anteriorly to attach to each other. The bony pelvis is the entire structure formed by the two hip bones, the sacrum, and, attached inferiorly to the sacrum, the coccyx .
    • 7.5: Bones of the Lower Limb
      Like the upper limb, the lower limb is divided into three regions. The thigh is that portion of the lower limb located between the hip joint and knee joint. The leg is specifically the region between the knee joint and the ankle joint. Distal to the ankle is the foot. The lower limb contains 30 bones. These are the femur, patella, tibia, fibula, tarsal bones, metatarsal bones, and phalanges.
    • 7.6: Embryonic Development of the Appendicular Skeleton
      Embryologically, the appendicular skeleton arises from mesenchyme, a type of embryonic tissue that can differentiate into many types of tissues, including bone or muscle tissue. Mesenchyme gives rise to the bones of the upper and lower limbs, as well as to the pectoral and pelvic girdles. Development of the limbs begins near the end of the fourth embryonic week, with the upper limbs appearing first. Thereafter, the development of the upper and lower limbs follows similar patterns.