Difference Between Bone and Cartilage

Bone vs Cartilage

Both bone and cartilage are parts of the endoskeleton of vertebrates, but they are different from each other in both form and function. That means, there are structurally and functionally different structures present in vertebrate endoskeletons; albeit those all function as a unit.

Usually, the differences between bone and cartilage do not reach the public, but this article intends to discuss the characteristics, as well as, those existing differences.

What is Bone?

Bones are the rigid organs of the vertebrate’s endoskeleton and these mainly consist of calcium and other minerals. Bones are a type of highly dense connective tissue, which is mineralized osseous tissue. Bones primarily provide the structural base for the whole body of vertebrates.

The basic physical frame of the vertebrate body is achieved due to the presence of bones or the skeletal system. In addition, bones provide attachment surfaces for the muscles and tendons.

Because of the great rigidity, bones account for the physical protection of other organs such as the heart, brain, lungs, and many more. Particularly, the skull bones are responsible for protecting the brain; vertebrae cover the spinal cord, and ribs protect the heart and lungs.

Despite the rigidity of bones, the interior is a medulla called the bone marrow. One of the main functions of bones is the production of red blood cells and white blood cells for the circulatory system.

In fact, the production of blood cells takes place in the bone marrow of long bones through the process called haematopoiesis. Since bones contain high quantities of calcium and phosphorus, the requirements of such minerals are fulfilled for the rest of the body consuming the bones.

When the overall importance of these structures is considered, it could be envisaged that bones play many important roles to maintain the life of an organism. Additionally, bones define the great difference between vertebrates and invertebrates in the presence or absence.

What is Cartilage?

Cartilage is a flexible and strong type of connective tissues in most of the vertebrates usually as parts of their endoskeletons. In the case of cartilaginous fish, the whole endoskeleton is made up of cartilages. The muscles are more flexible than cartilages, but muscles do not beat the stiffness of cartilages.

Cartilages are made up of chondroblasts, which are a specialised type of cells. One of the interesting features of the cartilages is that there are no blood vessels and the capability to repair in case of an injury is limited.

The growth rate of cartilages is very slow, and that is the reason for its limited capability to repair after an injury. The exterior of a cartilage is composed of a high amount of collagen fibres and elastin fibres in the ground substance of proteoglycan.

The tendons of the muscles are made up of cartilages, and the length of each tendon is extremely important to the proper function of the muscles. Cartilages are not always parts of the skeletal system but parts of other systems as well; external ear is a cartilaginous sheet where it is a part of the auditory system.

What is the difference between Bone and Cartilage?

  • Bones are stronger and stiffer than cartilages are.
  • Cartilages are flexible structures while bones are never flexible.
  • Bones take part in more functions of the body of a vertebrate than cartilages.
  • Bones grow faster than cartilages.
  • Bones produce red and white blood cells but not cartilages.
  • Bones are mineral reserves but not cartilages.
  • Bones are parts of the skeletal system whereas cartilages could be parts of other systems, as well.

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