Chapter 6. Bone Tissue and the Skeletal System

6.0 Introduction

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 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)


This picture is dumb. Replace with something like this that shows sectioned bone that shows inside spongy bone and outside compact bone.


Figure 1: Even though a bone like this seems unchanging, in fact bones are alive and constantly remodeling through time. Bones can look very different not only on the outside, but inside too.

Chapter Objectives

After studying this chapter, you will be able to:

  1. List and describe the functions of the skeletal system
  2. Describe the classes of bones
  3. Describe the microscopic and gross anatomical structures of bones
  4. Discuss the process of bone formation and development
  5. Explain how bone repairs itself after a fracture
  6. Discuss the effect of exercise, nutrition, and hormones on bone tissue
  7. Describe how an imbalance of calcium can affect bone tissue


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.