Functional Human Anatomy

Louie has become quite comfortable in these new surroundings. Having him available for me to match up bones while reading about them has definitely been helpful as I try to get a handle on some 206 body bones. I am picking up all sorts of information, some of it definitely very useful and some of it purely interesting (at least to me!) trivia.

My information source is Marian Diamond’s lectures, all available on youtube, for the Department of Integrative Biology at UC Berkeley. She will typically point out the meaning of words – or parts of words – as a way of helping us to understand more about the function of a bone. She has said that terminology and derivation are both fun and can help with recall.

Stand up straight. (Go on, try it 🙂 ) Most likely, if you are like me, your arms are hanging at your sides with your palms facing towards your body. With a slight adjustment – just turn your arms so your palms are facing forward – you can stand in the anatomical position, which is face forward, palms forward. If you were to then draw a line down the middle of your body from your head to your feet, this would be called the midline cut.

When doctors talk about body parts, each part is noted in terms of its relationship to this midline cut and its relationship to other body parts, using terminology such as medial (closer to the midline), lateral (to the side of another part and away from the midline), proximal (closer to the trunk, which is the main body without the appendages) or distal (away from the trunk). Of course, our bodies can also be divided into  a top and a bottom by the transverse plane, giving us superior locations (above the plane) and inferior locations (below the plane). And lastly, humans have a front and a back, known as anterior and posterior.

Okay, so why do we have all these bones? All the better to break them as athletes, in accidents, or in old age? (Full disclosure, I have yet to break a bone and am hoping to keep it that way!)

Our bones serve us in five ways:

  1. They support us so we can stand up, otherwise we would be a pile of mush.
  2. They permit us to move thanks to the muscles that are attached to our skeletal system.
  3. They protect us – especially the brain, heart, lungs – just imagine if those parts had no protective shell around them!
  4. They store calcium, which is necessary for muscle contraction and nerve conduction.
  5. They produce bone marrow, which forms the red and white blood cells. (New word: Hemopoiesis – formation of blood.)

For more on the classification of bones, feel free to view Marian Diamond’s second lecture.

@brainbits: Dem bones, dem bones, dem 206 connected bones–upper extremities & lower extremities–long bones, short bones & irregular bones–flat bones 🙂


One thought on “Functional Human Anatomy

  1. Pingback: Our Axial Skeleton « Neurons Firing

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