Types of Skeletal Systems


An endoskeleton is a skeleton that consists of hard, mineralized structures located within the soft tissue of organisms. An example of a primitive endoskeletal structure is the spicules of sponges. The bones of vertebrates are composed of tissues, whereas sponges have no true tissues (Figure). Endoskeletons provide support for the body, protect internal organs, and allow for movement through contraction of muscles attached to the skeleton.

Photo shows a human skeleton riding a bucking horse skeleton.
The skeletons of humans and horses are examples of endoskeletons. (credit: Ross Murphy)

The human skeleton is an endoskeleton that consists of 206 bones in the adult. It has five main functions: providing support to the body, storing minerals and lipids, producing blood cells, protecting internal organs, and allowing for movement. The skeletal system in vertebrates is divided into the axial skeleton (which consists of the skull, vertebral column, and rib cage), and the appendicular skeleton (which consists of the shoulders, limb bones, the pectoral girdle, and the pelvic girdle).

Link to Learning

Visit the interactive body site to build a virtual skeleton: select "skeleton" and click through the activity to place each bone.