Is This Human Body Part a Muscle or a Bone?


By: Daniel Yetman

6 Min Quiz

Image: Kangah / E+ / Getty Images

About This Quiz

Muscles and bones together make up the majority of your body's weight. Do you know how many of each is in an adult human's body? 

You probably have about 206 bones, but the exact number varies between individuals. Your patella (knee cap) is known as a sesamoid bone, which means that it helps redirect the forces of a muscle. Some people have other sesamoid bones in their hands, toes, and other places, which can raise the total number of bones.

How about muscles? Well the exact number of muscles in your body varies as well. Most people have approximately 600, but some people may be missing certain redundant muscles. Palmaris longus is a muscle that runs the length of your forearm that's absent in about 14% of people. You can tell if you have this muscle by making a fist and flexing your wrist. If you're among the majority of people, you should see a tendon popping in the middle of your wrist just before your hand. 

Is your anatomy knowledge up to par enough to tell us whether these parts of your body are muscles or bones? Some of the names may sound similar, so make sure you think before you answer. Ready? Let's get started!

Is your fibula a bone or a muscle?

Your fibula is the smaller of the two bones that make up your lower leg. If you feel the two bumps that make up your ankle joint, the outer bump is the end of your fibula bone. Can you name the other bone in your lower leg?


Can you tell us if your pisiform is a bone or muscle?

If you turn your wrist so that your palm is face-up and feel the base of your hand below your pinky, you should be able to feel a bump. This is your pisiform bone. It's one of the eight carpal bones in each of your hands.


Can you tell us what type of tissue your hyoglossus is?

Your hyoglossus muscle helps you depress your tongue. It connects to your hyoid bone, which is a U-shaped bone in the front of your neck. Without this muscle, eating would be very difficult!


Occipitalis is located in your head, but what is it?

Occipitalis is a thin muscle on the back of your head that helps move your scalp. If you feel the back of your skull, you should be able to feel a bump above where your neck attaches. This is where occipitalis connects.


Is your scapula a large shoulder muscle or a large shoulder bone?

Your shoulder blade is an interesting bone because it rotates when you lift your arm. The design of this bone gives you a large range of movement throughout your arm compared to your other large ball and socket joint, your hip.


Your nasal ____ is around your nose. It's a ...

There are no muscles in your nose, but there is a nasal bone. The soft part of your nose at the tip is made up of cartilage that continues to grow throughout your life. If you want to wiggle your nose, you have to activate facial muscles around your nose to do so.


Tensor fasciae latae is located in your hip and is a ...

Your TFL makes up your IT band that runs down the side of your leg as well as a bundle of muscle in your hip. It primarily acts as a stabilizer during running and walking but also helps you flex at the hip.


Is gluteus maximus your strongest bone or muscle?

Your gluteus maximus is the strongest muscle in your body. its primary function is to extend your hip. No matter whether you're walking or running, it acts as the prime mover. No wonder athletes have buns of steel!


What type of tissue is your triquetral?

Your triquetral is another one of the small carpal bones that make up your hand. It's located in the back of your hand near your pinky. It also connects with your pisiform and hamate carpal bones.


Obturator externus is one of your...?

Obturator externus is one of many small muscles in your hip that collectively make up your external rotators. These muscles act primarily to stabilize your hip during walking, running, and athletic movements.


Your navicular ______ is located in your foot. It's a...?

Your navicular bone is one of your tarsal bones that makes up your foot. Do you know why your foot is made up of small bones instead of one big bone? The primary reason is to help distribute forces from walking or running.


Your talus is located in the front of your foot. What type of structure is it?

Your talus bone is the big bone in the top of your foot just below where your leg connects. It's fairly common for athletes, particularly runners, to develop a stress fracture in their talus if they overtrain.


Your iliacus is a ...

Your iliacus is a small muscle that helps with hip flexion (lifting your leg). It connects from your iliac fossa (the flat part of your hip bone) and connects to the lesser trochanter of your femur.


Not everybody has the bone/muscle called palmaris longus. What do you think it is?

Roughly 14% of people are missing the muscle palmaris longus that runs down your forearm. When baseball players hurt their ulnar collateral ligament, sometimes surgeons take out the palmaris longus to use it as a graft.


Do you know if your ulna is a bone or muscle?

There are two muscles that make up your lower arm. The first is your radius, which is on the side on your thumb when your palms are face up. Your ulna runs from your pinky to your elbow, but when you turn your palm these two bones cross.


Don't get teary eyed when we talk about your lacrimal ____. Is it a bone or muscle?

Your lacrimal bone is located in the corner of your eye and makes up your tear ducts. It's a very fragile bone, so any trauma to the area can potentially break it. Just one more reason not to get punched in the eye.


Is your stapes a bone or a muscle that helps with your hearing?

Believe it or not, there are three tiny bones in your ear that help with hearing. In fact, they're the three smallest bones in your body. They help transmit sound from your middle ear to your inner ear.


Are your trapezius muscles or bones named after their shape?

Your traps are the muscles that make up your shoulders and upper back. There are upper, medial and lower fibers that all serve a similar purpose to stabilize and move your shoulder blade.


Latissimus dorsi is a _____?

Your lats are your "wings" beneath your arms that give your upper body a V-like taper (assuming you hit the gym regularly). Their primary function is to pull your upper arm toward your body.


Is your mandible a facial bone or muscle?

If you open your mouth, you're moving your mandible, otherwise known as your jaw bone. You mandible also has limited side-to-side movement and forward and back movement. Some animals, like snakes, have a jawbone that can unhinge to allow them to swallow large prey.


What in the world is your clavicle?

Your collar bone is one of the easiest bones in your body to break, especially when you're a kid. It serves as an attachment site for many muscles around your shoulder. When you lift your arm, the head of your clavicle rotates.


Your lunate is located in your hand. Do you know what it is?

Your hands are made up of a bunch of small bones collectively known as your carpal bones. Your lunate bone is a moon-shaped bone located near your ulna. It comes from the Latin word for moon. (think 'lunar').


Can you tell us what your platysma is?

Your platysma muscle is a sheath that fits over your throat. Its main function is to help you form certain facial expression such as sadness by puling the corners down. It originates from the top of your collar bone.


Rectus abdominis is a what?

Your rectus abdominis muscles make up your "six-pack." Even though they may look as hard as bone in some bodybuilders, they're still just muscle. The more you exercise a muscle, the denser the fibers tend to become.


Your diaphragm helps with breathing, but what is it?

Take a deep breath and feel the pressure building in your chest. This is thanks to your diaphragm contracting and shrinking your thoracic cavity. If it were a bone, you wouldn't be able to breathe!


Is your calcaneus a muscle or a bone?

Your calcaneus is the scientific name for your heel bone. It's definitely not a bone you want to break. Some athletes like triple jumpers commonly bruise this bone, which can be incredibly painful.


Are your phalanges a group of muscles or bones?

Your phalanges are the bones that make up your fingers and toes. You have 56 of these bones in total. Each of your fingers and toes has three of these bones except for your big toes and thumbs, which only have two.


The spinalis is a what?

Your spinalis muscle is one of the parts of your erector spinae muscles. It extends your spine by attaching to each of your verterbra except for C1. The other two groups of muscles that make up your erector spinae muscles are longissimmus and iliocostalis.


It may sound like a Harry Potter spell, but levator scapulae is a ______?

Your scapula is the full name for your shoulder blade, so can you guess what this muscle does? If you think it lifts your shoulder blade, you'd be correct! It attaches on your spine and inserts into your shoulder blade.


Your humerus is the funniest part of your body, but is it a muscle or a bone?

Your humerus, or funny bone, is the big bone that makes up your upper arm. The head of your humerus fits into your shoulder socket to allow free movement of the shoulder joint. The downside of being one of your most mobile joints is that it's also one of the most commonly injured.


Your patella is a ...

Your patella is the scientific name for your kneecap. It's known as a sesamoid bone, which means that it changes the angle of pull of a muscle. In the case of your patella, it helps your quadriceps extend your lower leg.


Wow, this one is a mouthful. Do you know what sternocleidomastoid is, a muscle or bone?

This muscle that's used to turn your head is easy to find. Turn your head either to the left or right and feel the large muscle protruding from the side of your neck. It runs all the way from your collar bone to your skull.


Buccinator: muscle or bone?

If you wiggle your cheeks, you're activating the buccinator muscle. If it wasn't for this muscle, you wouldn't be able to smile or whistle. Wouldn't life be so much more boring without it?


Is your femur a muscle or a bone?

Your femur is the main bone in your upper leg. It's also probably the bone you're picturing when you think of a generic-looking cartoon bone. Your femur is also the longest bone in your body!


Which one is correct: pubic muscle or pubic bone?

Your pubic bone is located at the base of your abs. It's actually formed from two separate bones fused in the middle with a section of hard cartilage known as your pubic synthesis.


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