Anatomy Atlas Part 3 – Upper Limb Skeleton

Human hand has always fascinated me and its skeleton is truly a marvel. Modern industrial robots still lose a lot to its flexibility (hands have seven degrees of freedom of movement, robots have one to six) and versatility (a hand can have a secure grip on almost anything from an egg to an axe).

Upper limb bones

©Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

For learning and examination we did not have a plastic skeleton mounted on a stand in the corner of the class. We had a box in which the real prepared bones of a man who committed suicide at a relatively young age were stored. So each bone could be taken out and examined separately.

One of the scary stories circulating about Professor Kos was relating to this fact. Small bones, like carpal and metacarpal bones, were stored in little pouches so they do not get lost or too mixed up with the rest. It was said that Professor Kos’s favourite way of examination in his former job at medical university was to shake up the pouch, pull one carpal bone out of it and ask which one it is. Any aspiring physician who failed to give prompt and correct answer was fired.

He did not do this to anyone of us that year, but we always felt he might to.


  1. Raucous Indignation says

    A question much like that was on my anatomy practical exam. But the question wasn’t which bone, but rather what tendon inserted where on the bone. Misidentify the bone and there was no chance to answer correctly.

  2. Ice Swimmer says

    Now I think i get how radius and ulna work when the hand is rotated.

    Your drawing makes it so much clearer.

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