Chapter 6. Bone Tissue and the Skeletal System

34 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)

Chapter Objectives

After studying this chapter, you will be able to:

  • List and describe the functions of bones
  • Describe the classes of bones
  • Discuss the process of bone formation and development
  • Explain how bone repairs itself after a fracture
  • Discuss the effect of exercise, nutrition, and hormones on bone tissue
  • 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.