BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

24 September 2014
Human Body & MindScience & Nature

BBC Homepage

In Human Body & Mind:

Contact Us

You are here: BBC Science > Human Body & Mind > The Body > Skeleton
Fact files

Skeleton - Hands and feet

Half of your bones: Are in your hands and feet

Knuckles: Are the ends of your metacarpals

Supporting your weight: Two bones in your feet carry most of your weight

Fingers and toes

More than half of the bones in your body are found in your hands and feet. There are 27 in each hand and 26 in each foot, and the way that they are arranged is remarkably similar.

If you bend your fingers, you can see that they each contain three bones, except for your thumbs, which only have two. The same is true for your toes. Your big toes contain two bones, and your other toes each contain three. The bones in your fingers and toes are called phalanges.

Metacarpals and metatarsals

The palms of your hands are made up of five bones called metacarpals. You can see them when you clench your fists, because your knuckles are the ends of your metacarpals. The soles of your feet consist of five bones arranged in the same way as your metacarpals, but they are called metatarsals.

Wrist bones

Your wrists consist of eight small nugget shaped bones, held together by ligaments. These are called carpals. They are arranged in two irregular rows that are held together by ligaments.

Carrying weight

The two largest bones in your feet carry most of your weight. Your calcaneus, or heel bone, and the talus, which lies between your heel bone and the bottom of your shinbone, are two of seven tarsal bones that make up the back part of each of your feet.


Your foot bones are arranged to form three strong arches: two length ways, and one across your foot. Ligaments bind your foot bones together along with the tendons of your foot muscles. This helps to hold your foot bones firmly in the arched position, but still allows some give and springiness.

Back to top

Related Links

Science Homepage | Nature Homepage
Wildlife Finder | Prehistoric Life | Human Body & Mind | Space
Go to top

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy