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Encyclopedia > Bird skeleton
It has been suggested that keel (bird) be merged into this article or section. (Discuss)
It has been suggested that Pygostyle be merged into this article or section. (Discuss)
The skeleton of a dove.
The skeleton of a dove.

The bird skeleton is highly adapted to these animals' capacity for flight. It is extremely lightweight, but strong enough to withstand the stresses that a bird experiences when taking off, flying and landing. One of the adaptations that make this possible is the fusing of bones that are separate in mammals into single ossifications, such as the pygostyle. Because of this, birds usually have a smaller number of bones than mammals or reptiles. Image File history File links Please see the file description page for further information. ... A keel in bird anatomy is an extension of the sternum which runs axially along the midline of the sternum and extends outward, perpendicular to the plane of the ribs. ... Image File history File links Please see the file description page for further information. ... Pygostyle refers to a number of the final few caudal vertebrae fused into a single ossification, to which the rectrices attach in birds. ... Image File history File links Bird_Skeleton. ... Image File history File links Bird_Skeleton. ... Pigeon redirects here; for other uses, see Pigeon (disambiguation). ... Orders Many - see section below. ... The eye is an adaptation. ... Phyla Subregnum Parazoa Porifera (sponges) Subregnum Agnotozoa Placozoa (trichoplax) Orthonectida (orthonectids) Rhombozoa (dicyemids) Subregnum Eumetazoa Radiata (unranked) (radial symmetry) Ctenophora (comb jellies) Cnidaria (coral, jellyfish, anemones) Bilateria (unranked) (bilateral symmetry) Acoelomorpha (basal) Orthonectida (parasitic to flatworms, echinoderms, etc. ... Flight is the process of flying: either movement through the air by aerodynamically generating lift or aerostatically using buoyancy, or movement beyond earths atmosphere by spacecraft. ... Figure 1  Stress tensor In physics, stress is a measure of the internal distribution of force per unit area within a body that balances and reacts to the loads applied to it. ... Grays illustration of a human femur, a typically recognized bone. ... Orders Subclass Multituberculata (extinct) Plagiaulacida Cimolodonta Subclass Palaeoryctoides (extinct) Subclass Triconodonta (extinct) Subclass Eutheria (includes extinct ancestors)/Placentalia (excludes extinct ancestors) Afrosoricida Artiodactyla Carnivora Cetacea Chiroptera Cimolesta (extinct) Creodonta (extinct) Condylarthra (extinct) Dermoptera Desmostylia (extinct) Dinocerata (extinct) Embrithopoda (extinct) Hyracoidea Insectivora Lagomorpha Litopterna (extinct) Macroscelidea Mesonychia (extinct) Notoungulata (extinct) Perissodactyla... Ossification is the process of bone formation, in which connective tissues, such as cartilage are turned to bone or bone-like tissue. ... Pygostyle refers to a number of the final few caudal vertebrae fused into a single ossification, to which the rectrices attach in birds. ... Orders See text. ...

Birds have many bones that are hollow, with criss-crossing struts or trusses (cross walls) for structural strength. (Some flightless birds like penguins have only solid bones, however). The number of hollow bones varies from species to species, though large gliding and soaring birds tend to have the most. Most bones contain oxygen which also makes them lighter.Birds also have more cervical (neck) vertebrae than many other animals; most have a highly flexible neck that consists of 13-25 vertebrae. Birds are the only vertebrate animals to have a fused collarbone (the furcula or wishbone) or a keeled breastbone. It has been suggested that Tensile strength be merged into this article or section. ... This article is about penguin birds. ... A diagram of a thoracic vertebra. ... Vertebrata is a subphylum of chordates, specifically, those with backbones or spinal columns. ... ... The furcula is a forked bone which is formed by the fusion of the two clavicles in most modern birds and some theropod dinosaur species. ... A fer is a large beam around which the hull of a ship is built. ... Sternum or breastbone is a long, flat bone located in the center of the thorax (chest). ...



The skull consists of five major bones:

  • Frontal (top of head).
  • Parietal (back of head).
  • Premaxillary and Nasal (top beak).
  • Mandible (bottom beak).

The skull of a normal bird usually weighs about 1% of the birds total bodyweight.

Neck, Back, and Tail

Consisting of vertebrae, the vertebral column is divided into three sections:

  • Cervical (13-16) (neck).
  • Synsacrum (fused vertebrae of the back, also fused to the hips (pelvis)).
  • Pygostyle (tail).


The chest consists of the furcula (wishbone), coracoid (collar bone), and ribs, which meet at the sternum (center of the chest).


The shoulder consists of the scapula (shoulder blade), coracoid (see The Chest), and humerus (upper arm). The humerus joins the radius and ulna (forearm) to form the elbow. The carpometacarpus forms the equivalent of the hand on the wing with digits (fingers) extending into the wing.The bones in the wing are extremly light so that the bird can fly more easily.


The hips consist of the pelvis which includes four major bones:

  • Illium (top of the hip).
  • Ischium (sides of hip).
  • Pubis (front of the hip).
  • Penis (erect)


The upper leg consists of the femur. At the knee joint, the femur connects to the tibiotarsus (shin) and fibula (side of lower leg). The tarsometatarsus forms the upper part of the foot, digits make up the toes. The leg bones of birds are the heaviest contributing to a low center of gravity. This aides in flight.

  Results from FactBites:
Bird - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (2594 words)
Birds are bipedal, warm-blooded, oviparous vertebrate animals characterized primarily by feathers, forelimbs modified as wings, and hollow bones.
Birds ventilate their lungs by means of posterior and anterior air sacs (typically nine) which act like bellows, but do not play a direct role in gas exchange.
Birds possess a ventriculus, or gizzard, that is composed of four muscular bands that act to rotate and crush food by shifting the food from one area to the next within the gizzard.
Comparing a Human and Avian Skeleton (592 words)
The main difference between the human and bird skeleton is that the bird's skeleton is adapted for flight.
The differences between the bird and human skeleton are very apparent in the pectoral girdle, which is the place where the forelimbs attach to the spine.
The collarbone of the bird is fused to form the furculum, or wishbone.
  More results at FactBites »



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