Bone, or osseous tissue, is a connective tissue that constitutes the endoskeleton. It contains specialized cells and a matrix of mineral salts and collagen fibers.

The mineral salts primarily include hydroxyapatite, a mineral formed from calcium phosphate. Calcification is the process of deposition of mineral salts on the collagen fiber matrix that crystallizes and hardens the tissue. The process of calcification only occurs in the presence of collagen fibers.

The bones of the human skeleton are classified by their shape: long bones, short bones, flat bones, sutural bones, sesamoid bones, and irregular bones (see the figure below).

 Illustration shows classification of different bone types. The sternum at the front, middle of the rib cage is a flat bone. The femur is a long bone. The patella is a sesamoid bone. The vertebrae are irregular bones, and the bones of the foot are short bones.

Shown are different types of bones: flat, irregular, long, short, and sesamoid.

Long bones are longer than they are wide and have a shaft and two ends. The diaphysis, or central shaft, contains bone marrow in a marrow cavity. The rounded ends, the epiphyses, are covered with articular cartilage and are filled with red bone marrow, which produces blood cells (see the figure below). Most of the limb bones are long bones—for example, the femur, tibia, ulna, and radius. Exceptions to this include the patella and the bones of the wrist and ankle.

Illustration shows a long bone, which is wide at both ends and narrow in the middle. The narrow middle is called the diaphysis and the long ends are called the epiphyses. The epiphyses are filled with spongy bone perforated with holes, and the ends are made up of articular cartilage. A hollow opening in the middle of the diaphysis is called the medullary cavity.

The long bone is covered by articular cartilage at either end and contains bone marrow (shown in yellow in this illustration) in the marrow cavity.

Short bones, or cuboidal bones, are bones that are the same width and length, giving them a cube-like shape. For example, the bones of the wrist (carpals) and ankle (tarsals) are short bones (see the figure above).

Flat bones are thin and relatively broad bones that are found where extensive protection of organs is required or where broad surfaces of muscle attachment are required. Examples of flat bones are the sternum (breast bone), ribs, scapulae (shoulder blades), and the roof of the skull (see the figure above).

Irregular bones are bones with complex shapes. These bones may have short, flat, notched, or ridged surfaces. Examples of irregular bones are the vertebrae, hip bones, and several skull bones.

Sesamoid bones are small, flat bones and are shaped similarly to a sesame seed. The patellae are sesamoid bones (see the figure below). Sesamoid bones develop inside tendons and may be found near joints at the knees, hands, and feet.

The patella is a flat, teardrop-shaped bone.

The patella of the knee is an example of a sesamoid bone.

Sutural bones are small, flat, irregularly shaped bones. They may be found between the flat bones of the skull. They vary in number, shape, size, and position.

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