How does the human skeleton work?

How bones and the human skeleton let us move, hold our bodies up and protect our organs.

What is a skeleton?

The skeleton is the structure that gives a body its shape.

Mammals (including humans), birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians all have skeletons made from bones.

What do bones do?

Some of our bones hold us upright.

Others protect our organs:

  • the skull protects the brain
  • the ribs protect the heart and lungs

Other bones help us move.

How do bones move?

Bones can't move on their own. They are moved by muscles.

When a muscle tightens it pulls the bones attached to it into a new position.

Did you know?

Children have more bones than adults!

When you are born you have around 270 bones. As you get older some of these join together so they don't count as separate bones.

Adults have around 206 bones.