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2: Skeletal
Systems and
Isabel, Lauren, and Vivien
Key Concepts
1. Skeletal muscles, often in antagonistic pairs, pull against the
skeleton. Skeletons may be hydrostatic and maintained by
fluid pressure, as in worms; hardened into exoskeletons, as
in insects; or internal endoskeletons, as in vertebrates. Both
exo and endo skeletons have unhardened connections, or
joints, that allow freedom of movement.
2. Each form of locomotion- movement on land, swimming, and
flying- presents particular challenges. For example,
swimmers face more of a challenge from friction and less
from gravity than do animals that walk or fly.
What is a skeleton?

● A rigid structure to which muscles can

● 2 Muscles attached to the same
section of the skeleton contract and
pull on the bone, causing movement.
They're called an antagonistic pair.
● Function in support and protection.
● 3 types: hydrostatic, exoskeletons,
and endoskeletons.
Hydrostatic Skeleton
● Fluid held under pressure in a closed body
compartment creates a skeletal structure and
support system.
○ Animals control their fork and movement by using
muscles to change the shape of fluid filled
● Peristalsis: A movement produced by
rhythmic waves of muscle contractions
passing from front to back, as in many
○ Allows for crawling and burrowing, but not walking or
● Well suited for aquatic environments.
● Main type of skeleton in most cnidarians,
flatworms, nematodes, and annelids.
● Hard covering deposited on the animal’s surface.
● Clams are a good example; they create calcium
carbonate shells from bodily secretions as they
grow, so they don't have to molt.
● Cuticle: Outer coat secreted by insects/arthropods
Mercenaria mercenaria
that is made of cellulose like chitin.
○ Inner muscles are attached to knobs and
○ Cuticle is harder in areas of armor and
certain mechanisms such as biting.
○ With each growth spurt, they molt and
produce a new exoskeleton.
Armadillidium vulgare
● Hard skeletal structure buried in soft tissues of an
● A sponge is a good example: Needle like inorganic
structures made of protein fibers support their inner
● Echinoderms (sea urchin, starfish) have ossicles,
which are hard plates of magnesium and calcium
carbonate crystals.
○ FUN fact: ossicles of sea urchins are tightly bound, while sea
star ossicles are loosely linked, allowing sea stars to change
the shape of their arms.
● Chordates (all vertebrates) have skeletons made of
cartilage, bone, or a combination of these two
substances. Asterias rubens
Skeleton Size and Scale
● Large animals are not only different in
size but also in proportion.
○ A mouse’s proportions couldn't be
sustained if magnified to the size of
an elephant.
● In supporting body weight, posture
(positions of the legs relative to the main
body) is more important than size.
○ Especially true in mammals and
● In large mammals, muscles and tendons
actually bear most of the weight.
What is locomotion?
● Locomotion: active travel from place to place.
● Useful for eating (foraging behavior), avoiding danger, or trying to
find a mate.
● In order to move, muscles and skeletons have to work together to
overcome the overall force of gravity (weight) and friction.
● Differs on land, in water, and in flight.
Locomotion on Land
● To walk, run and hop, animals on land must
resist gravity and support their bodies.
● Leg muscles must propel us, prevent falling, and
overcome inertia.
● Strong muscular/skeletal support is more
important than a streamlined shape.
● To maintain balance, bipedal animals always
keep one part of their feet on the ground unless
they're running (momentum).
Kangaroos (macropus rupus)
● To crawl, friction must be overcome. Animals do
store energy from hopping in
this by moving side to side or pushing off the
their tendons to reduce the
ground by lifting and tilting scales to aid energy they have to expend to
movement. travel. Their tail helps balance
and even generates some force.
Locomotion in the Ocean
● When swimming, buoyancy mostly
overcomes gravity. The main force working
against motion is drag (friction) from dense
● A fusiform (torpedo like) shape aids in
resisting friction for fast swimmers like tuna.
● Animals use many unique strategies to
navigate aquatic environments
○ Flap fin-like surfaces (free-swimming
sea slugs)
○ Squirting water to propel them forward
○ Undulating up and down (dolphins)
● Active flight has only evolved in a few
animal groups.
● Present in some insects, birds, and
bats. Very few of the species with ability
to fly are vertebrates.
● Animal’s wings must develop lift in
order to overcome the force of gravity;
this is related to wing shape.
● Fusiform shape reduces drag.
● Adaptations for low body mass aid in
○ Many birds have large, hollow
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