- Long bones are characterized by a shaft, the diaphysis, that is much longer than it is wide. They are made up mostly of compact bone, with lesser amounts of marrow, located within the medullary cavity, and spongy bone. Most bones of the limbs, including those of the fingers and toes, are long bones. The exceptions are those of the wrist, ankle and kneecap.
- Short bones are roughly cube-shaped, and have only a thin layer of compact bone surrounding a spongy interior. The bones of the wrist and ankle are short bones, as are the sesamoid bones.
- Flat bones are thin and generally curved, with two parallel layers of compact bones sandwiching a layer of spongy bone. Most of the bones of the skull are flat bones, as is the sternum.
- Sesamoid bones are bones embedded in tendons. Since they act to hold the tendon further away from the joint, the angle of the tendon is increased and thus the leverage of the muscle is increased. Examples of sesamoid bones are the patella and the pisiform.
- Irregular bones do not fit into the above categories. They consist of thin layers of compact bone surrounding a spongy interior. As implied by the name, their shapes are irregular and complicated. Often this irregular shape is due to their many centers of ossification or because they contain bony sinuses. The bones of the spine, hips, and some bones of the skull are irregular bones. Examples include the ethmoid and sphenoid bones.
Read more about this topic: Bone
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