• Question: Can you explain the nose bone, please? Is it acually bone, and when you ess a human skull, there isnt any nosey bits on it apart from a hole.

    Asked by barney to Iain, Jo, Leo, Mariam on 23 Jun 2010 in Categories: .
    • Photo: Mariam Orme

      Mariam Orme answered on 23 Jun 2010:

      Hi Barney,

      Your nose doesn’t have any bones actually – instead it’s supported by stuff called cartilage. Cartilage is also found in joints, so maybe if you’ve ever paid attention when eating a chicken leg, for example, you’ll have noticed the white-ish cartilage at the ends of the bones.

      Anyway, cartilage isn’t as hard or strong as bone, so like flesh it gets degraded – and that’s why skulls just have a hole where the nose should be!

    • Photo: Iain Moal

      Iain Moal answered on 23 Jun 2010:

      Its not bone, its cartilage, which is much softer and can rot away.

    • Photo: Leo Garcia

      Leo Garcia answered on 23 Jun 2010:

      You are completely right to come up with this question – why do we talk of ‘nose bones’, but don’t see one after the body has decomposed to leave the rest of the skull. It’s a great observation.

      The hard bridge of the human nose is made of a material called cartilage. Cartilage is a connective tissue which is also found in the joints between bones. It is stiffer than muscle, but less stiff than bone.

      When the body decomposes, cartilage too degrades – which is why it isn’t seen in human skeletons.