What Is The Smallest Bone In The Body? Fascinating Body Facts For Kids

Anusuya Mukherjee
Oct 13, 2023 By Anusuya Mukherjee
Originally Published on Oct 22, 2021
Otolaryngologist holding model of human ear anatomy showing the stapes bone
Age: 3-18
Read time: 3.9 Min

The smallest bone in the human body is the stapes, known as malleus incus (anvil), which can be found in the middle ear.

The stapes resemble the shape of a stirrup. This bone is one of three bones that are located in the middle ear, and these are collectively known as the ossicles.

The function of the ossicles is to transfer pressure waves from the outer ear to the inner ear. The skeletal system acts as the frame of the human body, giving it a definite shape.

The other functions that it undertakes are allowing movement, producing blood cells, storing essential minerals, and protecting important organs. When a person is born, they have a total of 240 bones, which narrows down to 206 by the time they reach adulthood.

There are two types of bones within the human body. The first ones are hard bones called the cortical bones, they are also called structure bones.

The other ones are the soft and spongy trabecular bones. They are mainly situated between large bones and inside the pelvis, ribs, and skull.

After reading all about the shortest bone of the human body, the stirrup within the ear, why not learn more by taking a look at what do all cells have in common and why do we have baby teeth?

What is a stapes bone?

The stapes bone, along with two other bones, the malleus and incus, are known to be the smallest bones in the human body. It is located in the middle ear.

The stapes bone is often compared to having a shape similar to a tuning fork. The malleus bone, on the other hand, is known to have the shape of a hammer. The incus is often considered to portray an anvil-shaped structure.

The sound waves initially enter the auditory canal, traveling through the tympanic membrane, eventually reaching the middle ear section. Here vibration takes place as a result of sound waves.

The bones that take part in these vibrations are together called the ossicles and are composed of stapes, malleus, and incus. It is from here that this sound wave is finally recognized by the brain.

The stirrup-shaped stapes have two branches, an inferior and a superior crus, that helps in transferring vibrations to the bone’s flat base. These vibrations then enter the inner ear where they are taken into the neutral data to be transferred to the brain through the cochlear and auditory nerve.

The stapes bones have a very prominent role to play in hearing. If this bone gets damaged, you might lose the ability to hear, either partially or in worst cases, completely.

What is the largest and smallest bone of the human body?

The femur is said to be the longest bone in the human body. It is approximately 19.9 in (50.54 cm) in length and is commonly referred to as the thigh bone.

Because it is the strongest bone in the human body, it functions in bearing and providing stability to the gait. The weight of the upper body rests on the two femoral heads.

On the other hand, as mentioned earlier, the stapes bone present in the middle ear is the smallest bone in the human body.

Two students learning human biology with human skeleton model

What is the second smallest bone in the body?

The partner of the stapes bone, the malleus, is known to be the second smallest bone in the human body. It is also called the hammer or a mallet.

Along with the other bones present in the middle ear, that is, the stapes and the incus, the malleus helps transmit vibrations from the eardrum to the inner ear. Because of its very important role in the transmission of sound waves, any damage to the malleus can affect hearing.

What is the strongest bone in the human body?

The strongest bone in the human body is the femur. The whole human body’s weight is supported by the two femoral heads. The femur also acts as a key site for many other muscles and ligaments. Amazingly, these thigh bones are known to be stronger than concrete and are capable of handling or withstanding a large force.

However, if the force is immense, such as a fall from a building or a car accident, it might result in breaking or fracturing of these bones. To fix this, doctors usually recommend an operation, where they use of different tools to hold broken bones together for faster recovery.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy!

If you liked our suggestions for what is the smallest bone in the body, fascinating body facts for kids, then why not take a look at what kind of cheese is Babybel, delicious cheese snack facts for kids or what kind of bear is Baloo, in Disney's 'The Jungle Book' unraveled?

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Written by Anusuya Mukherjee

Bachelor of Arts and Law specializing in Political Science and Intellectual Property Rights

Anusuya Mukherjee picture

Anusuya MukherjeeBachelor of Arts and Law specializing in Political Science and Intellectual Property Rights

With a wealth of international experience spanning Europe, Africa, North America, and the Middle East, Anusuya brings a unique perspective to her work as a Content Assistant and Content Updating Coordinator. She holds a law degree from India and has practiced law in India and Kuwait. Anusuya is a fan of rap music and enjoys a good cup of coffee in her free time. Currently, she is working on her novel, "Mr. Ivory Merchant".

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