Bone Anatomy

Gross anatomy of bones

This page is designed to be a reference for gross external anatomy of the humerus, radius & ulna, femur, tibia & fibula, ribs and vertebrae.  Definitions of some terms encountered in the Figures are given in the Bone features section, and an overview of the human skeleton can be found here.



The Humerus

 An annotated diagram of the humerus.


Figure 1: The Humerus.  This is the bone that attaches the forearm to the trunk of the body via the clavicle and scapula.  At the elbow joint, the trochlea and capitulum articulate with the trochlear notch of the ulna and head of the radius respecitvely.  Courtesy of BDB at (click here to see a larger version of the image.)



Radius & Ulna

Labelled diagram of the radius and ulna

Figure 2: The radius (left) and ulna (right).  These two bones are commonly fractured in children and join to the humerus via the elbow proximally (top of picture) and to the carpal bones distally (bottom of picture).  Adapted from a photo courtesy of Rob Swatski at



Labelled diagram of the femur


Figure 3: The Femur.  Its head articulates with the acetabulum of each coxa.  The lateral and medial condyles articulate with those of the tibia.   Adapted from a diagram courtesy of Frank Gaillard via Creative Commons Attribution Sharealike. ( - please click here to see a larger version of the image.



Tibia and Fibula


Labelled diagram of the radius and ulna


Figure 4: The tibia and fibula of the lower leg.  The malleolus on each side can be easily palpated as bony protuberences just above the ankle joint.  At the top of the picture, the articulation with the femoral condyles can easily be seen.  Adapted from a photo courtesy of Earl Robert at




A typical rib

Labelled diagram of a typical rib


Figure 5: A typical rib. 1 = head, 2 = neck, 3 = tubercle, 4 = angle, 5 = shaft.  The head articulates with the thoracic vertebral bodies.  The neck lies in front of the transverse processes.  The tubercle points in a posterior direction in vivo and articulates with the articular facet on the transverse process of its vertebra (see Figure 6).  Courtesy of April J. Gazmen at



A typical thoracic vertebra

Labelled diagram of a thoracic vertebra

Figure 6: A typical thoracic vertebra.  The articular facet is the lateral part of each transverse process and is where the tubercles of the ribs articulate.  Cervical vertebrae are smaller and more delicate, whereas the lumbar vertebra are more bulky and robust, as they are burdened with more weight to carry.  The vertebral foreamen carries the spinal cord and associated meninges.  Courtesy of Rob Swatski at


Continue to Internal bone structure