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Explain the functions of the skeleton in relation to its structures.

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While most people think of the skeleton as being simply "what holds you up," it has several features that are a bit more complex than this.

  1. The skeleton provides a strong yet flexible framework upon which the rest of the body is built. This is primarily accomplished by virtue of the skeleton being a hybrid of organic and inorganic material; specifically, bone contains the mineral hydroxyapatite, formed into a matrix with cells interspersed throughout. The hydroxyapatite is strong, but it is also capable of bending slightly without breaking, allowing the bone to resist some impacts better than a stronger but more brittle composition would allow.

  2. Some bones, such as the femur, contain structures which are responsible for the generation of new blood cells. One proposed explanation for this is that the bones provide some of the best defensive structures in the body.

  3. In the form of the cranium, rib cage, and pelvis, the skeleton functions as armor, simply by covering the fragile structures within.

  4. Various textures and protrusions on the skeleton allow for greater surface area to allow the attachment of muscles, tendons, and ligaments which hold the body together and support movement.

  5. Biological sex differences are partially manifested in differences in proportion of the skeleton; for example, wider and differently angled hips in women support childbirth, and different facial proportions magnify the secondary sex characteristics that make men and women more distinguishable on sight.

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