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Class Notes: Human Osteology

Tuesday: November 1, 2011

Week 5: Shoulder and Arms


The shoulder girdle connects the forelimbs (appendicular skeleton) to the thorax (axial skeleton). It is a very shallow ball and socket joint, allowing for great flexibility. The forelimb design is a common tetrapod design. The proximal half contains a single bone, while the distal end is made of two bones, terminating in the hand, which contains carpals, metacarpals, and free moving phalanges.

The shoulder girdle:

  • Scapula
  • Clavicle

The forelimb:

  • Humerus
  • Ulna
  • Radius
  • Carpals
    • Trapezium
    • Scaphoid
    • Lunate
    • Pisiform
    • Triquetral
    • Hamate
    • Capitate
    • Trapezoid
  • Metacarpals 1-5
  • Manual Phalanges
    • Proximal
    • Intermediate
    • Distal

We learned the various features of each bone and how to side them. Interestingly, I have spent a lot of time on the small bones of the hand which now I find easy, but I am having trouble with the larger bones of the arm. I wonder if this is normal. Remember, we do not get tested over full bones. Fragments are what is found in the archaeological record so fragments I must know.


We jumped ahead to the pelvis and lower limb. The pelvis is a paired group of three bones: the illium (what you feel as your “hip bone”), the ischium (what you sit on), and the pubis (which can be felt in the nether regions). These two sets of bones fuse early on to become two oddly shaped bones, sometimes referred to as the ox coxae or the innominate. The leg is in the same model as the arm: a single bone in the proximal half, two bones in the lower half, terminating into tarsals, metatarsals, and phalanges. My favorite bone pops in at the knee: the patella.

The lower limb:

  • Femur
  • Patella
  • Tibia
  • Fibula


  • Tarsals
    • Calcaneous
    • Talus
    • Navicular
    • Cuboid
    • 1st Cuneiform
    • 2nd Cuneiform
    • 3rd Cuneiform
  • Pedal Phalanges
    • Proximal
    • Intermediate
    • Distal

Just like the upper bones, I am pretty confident in the small bits, but the long bones trick me often. I am decent at identifying which bone it is, but siding is still a struggle. I missed the practical lab section here because I was working with my cohort on a presentation for BARFAA coming up on the 8th of October. This is part of my problem with long bones I think, but I should make up for it this week with extra study time.

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One remark!

  1. Bones…we sure have a lot of them. again I have problems trying to remember the names let alone trying to put them where they belong.
    good luck to you.

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