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Different types of skeletal systems in animals

Updated on October 25, 2010
Skeleton | Source

What is skeleton?

In biology and anatomy, the skeleton is defined as that part of the body which forms the supporting framework of the body and give a proper shape to the body. A skeleton can be anything from microscopic fibers such as the skeleton of the cell (cytoskeleton), to a well developed system of bones, joints and cartilages, as occurs in human beings. No matter what physical shape it exists in, the skeleton will perform have the supporting function. The term skeleton refers to the framework of the animal body around which the whole body is built. Skeleton is the collective name for all the hard and rigid structures in the body forming the framework of the body.

Types of skeleton:

In animals there are three major types of skeleton. These are;

1. Hydrostatic skeleton

2. Endoskeleton

3. Exoskeleton

Hydrostatic Skeleton
Hydrostatic Skeleton | Source

Hydrostatic Skeleton

Some of the soft bodied invertebrates like the sea anemones and annelids etc are deprived of hard skeleton. In such animals the coelom filled with a fluid acts as a kind of skeleton and this skeletal system is called the hydrostatic skeleton. It provides support and helps in locomotion. The body of sea anemone is surrounded by muscle fibers and tentacles surround its mouth. The body and the tentacles are extended with the seawater present in the cavity of sea anemone. The pressure of muscle fibers on the liquid in the body cavity helps in maintaining the position of sea anemone in water. Hydrostatic skeleton in the earthworm enables it to move on the earth.

Beetle Exoskeleton
Beetle Exoskeleton | Source


The exoskeleton is that type of skeleton which lies outside the soft parts of the body providing a covering to them. It is in the form of hard and rigid plates composed of dead substance secreted by cells. Familiar examples of this type of skeleton are thus found in the insect, the horny scales, feathers and hairs. In many cases the exoskeleton is very rigid and heavy. It restricts the movements of the animal to the extent that the animal is passive and slow or even sessile.

One group of animals however has attained a very successful solution of the difficulty posed by the rigidity and weight of the exoskeleton. These animals are arthropods. They are completely encases in a very light substances known as chitin. In addition the exoskeleton instead of being formed of just one piece or even two pieces is divided into several distinct section. Thus the arthropods have ease of motion with a protective outer covering. This is a factor in their biological success. It presents one great disadvantage if t he animal is to grow at all it must remove its exoskeleton. Arthropods do this by molting or ecdysis.

Endoskeleton monkey
Endoskeleton monkey | Source


Endoskeleton develops within the skin or in the deeper tissues. The vertebrate skeleton is basically an endoskeleton made up of two types of tissues; bone and cartilage. During early embryonic development the endoskeleton is composed of notochord and cartilage. The notochord in most vertebrates is replaced by vertebral column and the cartilage is replaced by bone in most adults. The endoskeleton gives shape and support to the body and provides a mean of locomotion.


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      Jiuyang 3 years ago

      nice!! how do we can do like this???!

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      Azha Amirul 3 years ago

      Very useful notes and easy to understand!

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      mel 3 years ago

      life is amazing yet myseterious

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      noone 4 years ago

      more info has to be added to this site

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      jude 4 years ago


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      Reuben pardiyio 5 years ago

      Under cervicle do we only deal with axis and atlas 2 wat abt the rest.

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      Tina Humble 5 years ago

      I love this site,they gave me exactly what i want.

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      Gabriel 5 years ago

      God is the creator of the whole world

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      Gabriel 5 years ago

      U are tring keep it up, God bles u

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      caleb 5 years ago

      how does a hydrostatic skeleton provide support and movement?

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      anoymous 5 years ago

      Ok i guess

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      Njele Caleb 5 years ago

      Life is full of d sturdy of nature,nd only Biology can provide d careful sturdy of wat happenes in human body!nd dat is y i love d information i ve got.time 2 seat 4 xams!!

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      Riju 5 years ago

      It is extremely helpful for my examination this coming Monday.It gives me the correct information as well. I give this site 8 out of 10. :) :D

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      Ahsaniqbalkmc 5 years ago from Pakistan

      Only the first (atlas) and the second (axis) cervical vertebrae have been named. The rest are denoted as 3rd cervical, 4th cervical and so on.

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      Abel Sophia 5 years ago

      I don't think that the cervical vertebra consists of the axis and atlas alone,what are the names of the other five vertebrae that make up the cervical vertebra?