<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >
By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Discuss the two types of embryonic bone development within the skull
  • Describe the development of the vertebral column and thoracic cage

The axial skeleton begins to form during early embryonic development. However, growth, remodeling, and ossification (bone formation) continue for several decades after birth before the adult skeleton is fully formed. Knowledge of the developmental processes that give rise to the skeleton is important for understanding the abnormalities that may arise in skeletal structures.

Development of the skull

During the third week of embryonic development, a rod-like structure called the notochord    develops dorsally along the length of the embryo. The tissue overlying the notochord enlarges and forms the neural tube, which will give rise to the brain and spinal cord. By the fourth week, mesoderm tissue located on either side of the notochord thickens and separates into a repeating series of block-like tissue structures, each of which is called a somite    . As the somites enlarge, each one will split into several parts. The most medial of these parts is called a sclerotome    . The sclerotomes consist of an embryonic tissue called mesenchyme, which will give rise to the fibrous connective tissues, cartilages, and bones of the body.

The bones of the skull arise from mesenchyme during embryonic development in two different ways. The first mechanism produces the bones that form the top and sides of the brain case. This involves the local accumulation of mesenchymal cells at the site of the future bone. These cells then differentiate directly into bone producing cells, which form the skull bones through the process of intramembranous ossification. As the brain case bones grow in the fetal skull, they remain separated from each other by large areas of dense connective tissue, each of which is called a fontanelle    ( [link] ). The fontanelles are the soft spots on an infant’s head. They are important during birth because these areas allow the skull to change shape as it squeezes through the birth canal. After birth, the fontanelles allow for continued growth and expansion of the skull as the brain enlarges. The largest fontanelle is located on the anterior head, at the junction of the frontal and parietal bones. The fontanelles decrease in size and disappear by age 2. However, the skull bones remained separated from each other at the sutures, which contain dense fibrous connective tissue that unites the adjacent bones. The connective tissue of the sutures allows for continued growth of the skull bones as the brain enlarges during childhood growth.

The second mechanism for bone development in the skull produces the facial bones and floor of the brain case. This also begins with the localized accumulation of mesenchymal cells. However, these cells differentiate into cartilage cells, which produce a hyaline cartilage model of the future bone. As this cartilage model grows, it is gradually converted into bone through the process of endochondral ossification. This is a slow process and the cartilage is not completely converted to bone until the skull achieves its full adult size.

Questions & Answers

what is the meaning of cell
Nabirni Reply
homeostasis is useful in this system
win Reply
What ligament are very tight when the knee is fully extended?
Bella Reply
what are the types of synovial joints
Foster Reply
homeostasis is that maintenance of a fairly constant internal environment in living organism.
Godfrey Reply
What is homostasis
Chibuye Reply
Transplants between genetically different individuals of the same speices
shaletta Reply
a branching or projection
amluce Reply
What responses are generated by the nervous system when you run on a treadmill?
Sad Reply
what is Ramus?
La Reply
a test bank for writing tests?
Sabra Reply
is there a A/P test Bank?
Ann Reply
At the base of the follicle is a cluster of cells called the .............or..........
Wasike Reply
what is the structure and functions of plasmodesma
beauty Reply
what is the definition of blood
Abdulwasi Reply

Get the best Anatomy & Physiology course in your pocket!

Source:  OpenStax, Anatomy & Physiology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 04, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11496/1.8
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'Anatomy & Physiology' conversation and receive update notifications?