Where'd my bones go?

There’s a radio ad for a hospital running in my parts, where the narrator says, “When I was 6 years old, I broke my leg. That was back when I had 275 bones. I have 206 bones now (as an adult).”

Anyone care to explain?

I know that, for example, a baby’s skull consists of floating bones that fuse later, but losing 69 bones as you grow sure seems like an awful lot.

What are they, and what happens to 'em?

I predict this post will get a near-record number of views. Who can read the headline and NOT open up the post to see what it’s about? Bravo.

From Human Anatomy Online - click on the skull and then in the left-hand frame on “The Skeletal System.”

P.S. I just realized that I only repeated what you said in your OP. I’ll do some more looking around if time permits.

This site might have some of the information you’re looking for.

The Skeletal System

I thought you were my friend.


I guess my question could be further broken down to this: Are all of these lost bones involving the skull? What other parts of the body have bones that fuse together as we age?

Just a WAG, but the hands and feet have alot of small bones. Maybe some of them fuse together.
And of course there’s the bone that most men lose if they get old enough…

Nope, they stay the same small bones they always were.

I believe that the pelvis fuses from 3 bones to 1 complete structure.


OK, with the bones from the skull, that’s … what? Ten lost bones, maybe?

We’re still nowhere near 60-plus bones.



are individual teeth counted as bones?

IIRC, the last six or so vertibrae fuse to form the coccyx, or tailbone.

Also, I think the jaw is initially 2 pieces, separate at the chin.

The sacrum is originally 5 vertibrae that fuse to one.

What about the wrists? There’s a bunch of small ones there.

Nope Gunslinger, they hang around for life man.


I’m reminded of Alan Sherman’s parody of the old (50s?) song C’est si bon:

"The doctor was looking at the X-ray
And I asked him, what did he see?
And he kept on looking at the X-ray
As he answered, in French, to me

"I see bones
I see gizzards and bones
And a few kidney stones
Among the lovely bones!

"I see your spine
And your spine looks devine
It looks exactly like mine
(Forgot the lyric)

“See bones, see bones
See bones, see bones…”

All I can find is that children have 270 soft bones, some of which fuse and become the 206 hard bones of an adult at about age 20-25.

All I could definately find was that the coccyx (4), sacrum (5?), sternum (3), and pelvis (3) fuse to form one bone each. That only accounts for 11 missing.

Sheesh, Johnny, if you’re gonna quote the one and only Allan, you oughta do him the service of looking up (or memorizing, in my case) the lyrics. Ahem:

*The doctor was looking at my X-ray
And I asked him “What do you see?”
And he kept on looking at the X-ray
As he said
In French
Toooooo meeeeee…

I see bones
I see gizzards and bones
And a few kidney stones
Among the lovely bones!

I see your hips
And asparagus tips
And fourteen paper clips
Among the lovely bones!

There are things
In your per-
That belong
In the British

I see your spine
And your spine looks divine
It’s exactly like mine
Now doesn’t that seem strange?
And just in case
You use pay telephones
There’s two dollars in change
Among the lovely bones!*

(a spoken riff about M&Ms “Those folks are right - they don’t melt!” and a 1992 McKinley blue postage stamp follows)

I’m thinking some bones where the jaw meets the ear? But I’m probably wrong.

WAG…baby teeth?

teeth aren’t bones, are they? I thought their chemical structure was quite different. (and in any event, you have more teeth as an adult than as a child, so that can’t be the cause of a net loss of bones, can it?)