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Bones of the Human Limbs

by Greg Crowther


A standard part of human anatomy and physiology courses is learning the names of the bones. This song, originally written for Biology 241 at South Seattle College, covers the bones of the appendicular skeleton, i.e., the limbs.


Bones of the human limbs,
From proximal to distal.
For your studying or just for grins,
Shoot 'em off like a pistol!

From the shoulder:
There's one humerus, one ulna,
And, thicker toward the wrist, one radius;
Eight carpals, five metacarpals,
Fourteen phalanages. (These are not the weightiest!)


From the hip:
There's one femur, one patella,
One fibula and one larger tibia;
Seven tarsals, five metatarsals,
Fourteen phalanages. (I am not ribbin' ya!)


Other Files

sheet music (with melody play-back)

Lesson Plan

Songs like this one can be used during class meetings and/or in homework assignments. Either way, the song will be most impactful if students DO something with it, as opposed to just listening.

An initial, simple follow-up activity could be to answer the study questions below. A more extensive interaction with the song might entail (A) learning to sing it, using an audio file and/or sheet music as a guide, and/or (B) illustrating it with pictures, bodily poses, and/or bodily movements. The latter activity could begin with students identifying the most important or most challenging content of the song, and deciding how to illustrate that particular content.

Examples of kinesthetic movements for this song, as suggested by Dr. Lekelia (Kiki) Jenkins, are as follows. For the word "proximal," put your hand on your chest; for the word "distal," extend your arm fully away from the body. When specific bones are mentioned, touch them on the body.

Study Questions

(1) How many total number of bones are there in an upper limb? How about in a lower limb?

(2) According to the song, how can one distinguish the ulna from the radius and the tibia from the fibula? Are there other ways you can remember which is which?

(3) This song used to be titled and sung as "Bones of the Arm and Leg." Anatomically speaking, why is "Bones of the Human Limbs" a better title?

(Answers may be found on the answers page.)