What Is the Function of the Appendicular Skeleton?

The appendicular skeleton holds and supports the limbs of the human body, allowing humans to walk and manipulate things. According to the University of the Western Cape, the appendicular skeleton is comprised of the pelvic and shoulder girdles as well as the arms, legs, feet and hands that attach to them. These bones contrast with those of the axial skeleton, which includes only the skull, ribcage, hyoid bone and vertebrae.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System explains that the appendicular skeleton is so named because the constituent bones lie outside of the body’s axis. The pelvic and pectoral girdles are the primary place in which the axial and appendicular skeletons meet. The pectoral girdle is comprised of two clavicles and two shoulder blades, while the pelvic girdle is comprised of two large hipbones. Each hipbone is actually comprised of three bones that have fused together. These bones are called the ilium, ischium and pubis bones.

In addition to serving as a site to which the femurs can attach, the pelvis also serves to contain and protect the organs of the lower abdomen, according to the University of the Western Cape. Wikipedia states that the appendicular skeleton contains 126 bones. When combined with the 80 bones of the axial skeleton, adult humans usually have a total of 206 bones.