Comprised of a complete networking of both individual and adjoined bones, along with the connective tissue responsible for their overall cohesion, the skeletal system functions to provide the structural framework essential for the support and protection of body’s major organs, and the scaffolding required for both the anchorage of the body’s musculature and the facilitation of movement. The physical and mechanical characteristics of the body are largely influenced by the partnership of the skeletal and muscular systems, which are jointly referred to as the musculoskeletal system and together consist of 206 bones connected to more than four hundred muscles via tendons, as well as the temporary cartilage from which bone is ossified and the permanent cartilage found constructing the external ear and nose. The skeletal system demonstrates a breadth of versatility through the remarkable capacity of connective tissue to assume a wide range of physical states; as is exemplified by the opposition between the strong rigid nature of the mineralized matrices from which bone is constructed, and the firm yet flexible infrastructure of protein fibers and protoglycans that makes up cartilage. Given the involvement of a great many cell types and signaling pathways during bone growth and development, as well as the dynamic processes of preservation and remodeling that follow, disruption of these pathways has been implicated in instances of abnormality and disorders, such as osteoporosis, arthritis, and inheritable skeletal diseases, associated with defective processes of bone growth and maintenance.
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