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This lesson goes over the definition of a long bone and explores its characteristics. Then, it names and locates the various long bones found in the human body.

Bones of the Body

You’ve got flat ones, short ones, long ones, and accessory ones.

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Nope, these have nothing to do with tools in your garage. These are different types of bone. Or, to put it another way, the different ways your bones can be classified.

In this lesson you’re going to learn about the long bones of the human body. These are probably the ones most commonly associated with the word ‘bone.’

What Are Long Bones?

A long bone is a category of bone classified mainly with respect to its shape, rather than its size.

There are many long bones in the human body, but they all share certain characteristics. For example, all long bones have a cylindrical shaft that is longer than it is wide, are slightly curved in nature, and have two extremities (or ends) that are typically expanded.Having a hard time picturing this? Think of a walking stick with a knob at the end where the hand holds the stick and a tennis ball at the other end of the stick. That’s sort of what your stereotypical long bone looks like in terms of its general shape.

Names of Long Bones

What’s important to reiterate is that long bones are classified with respect to shape, not size. Some long bones are much shorter in length than others but this doesn’t mean they are necessarily classified as a short bone, which is another category of bone separate from a long bone.The locations of the majority of the longs bones are easy to remember: they are in the arms, hands, legs, and feet.

A large number of the bones in these places are long bones.The long bones of the arm include:

  • The metacarpals, or the bones of the palm (not the wrist)
  • The phalanges, or the bones that make up your fingers
  • The humerus, or the bone that makes up the upper arm, running from the shoulder to the elbow
  • The ulna, which is the bone that gives your elbow its pointy shape and makes up part of the lower arm
  • The radius, or the other bone that makes up part of the lower arm, running from the elbow to the wrist

The long bones of the legs include:

  • The femur, or thigh bone. This bone is right underneath your pelvis when you stand.
  • The tibia, or the shin bone. The tibia is right below the femur.
  • The fibula, which is the calf bone. This is right next to the tibia.

  • The metatarsals, or the bones of the foot that lie closest to the toes (not the heel), and
  • The phalanges, or the bones that make up your toes. Note how these bones, although way shorter than the thigh bone, are still long bones. Why? Well, as mentioned before, it’s all about shape, not size!

While pretty much all the long bones are found in your arms and legs, there is one notable exception: the clavicle, or collarbone, is a long bone crossing the top of your chest.

Lesson Summary

Let’s review what we’ve learned…A long bone is a largely cylindrical bone with a slightly curved shape, a shaft that’s longer that it is wide, and extremities that are generally expanded.The long bones include:

  • The femur, or the thigh bone
  • The tibia, or the shin bone
  • The fibula, or the calf bone
  • The metatarsals, or some of the bones of the foot
  • The metacarpals, or the bones of the palm
  • The phalanges, or the bones that make up your fingers and toes
  • The humerus, or the bone of the upper arm
  • The ulna, or the bone of the lower arm
  • The radius, or the other bone of the lower arm
  • The clavicle, or the collarbone

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