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Answers to the Question of What is the Purpose of the Fibula

written by: Kathy Foust•edited by: Emma Lloyd•updated: 11/24/2009

What is the purpose of the fibula? Read here to learn why we have two legs bones instead of just one. There actually is a reason and it is all explained below.

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    Fibula Structure and Function

    The fibula is one of the two bones located in the lower legs of humans. These are sometimes also referred to as the "hind legs". The fibula is not actually the weight bearing bone of the leg, so what is the the purpose of the fibula? It actually has some purpose on it's own and these purposes can easily be seen when you consider certain elements of human lives.

    First, consider what the bone structure of some others animals is and what they do in life. For instance, the horse only has one lower leg bone. What does a horse do and how is the horse built? The horse does nothing more with their appendages than walk on them. Man on the other hand has arms as well as legs, so that the legs may serve more of a purpose than simply for walking. Birds also only have one bone in their lower leg. Though birds do walk, they do not use their legs primarily for walking or climbing, but instead use them mostly for stability as they perch.

    Now let's take a look at humans and what they use their legs for. Humans walk, run and use their legs for stability and to be able to stand upright, but they also have other uses. For instance, humans may use their legs to climb with. The existence of the fibula offers us more maneuverability than we would have with only one leg bone.

    Consider the tibia. It is the weight bearing bone of the legs, but the fibula offers secondary support to the tibia. Think of the fibula as you would think of the support braces for a table. While they aren't actually bearing any weight, they do offer support to the actual table legs, which in turn lends those table legs strength to prevent wobbling of the table.

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    The Fibula in Medicine

    Aside from the way our bodies use the fibula, there are also various secondary medical benefits found in this leg bone. Not only does the fibula provide support and maneuverability but it also an excellent source of the blood cells for bone marrow, making it a primary location to be sought when donations of bone marrow are needed. It also holds many minerals including calcium. It is also often used when there is a need for some type of bone transplant since it is not a weight bearing bone and thus can afford to lose some of its mass while it provides the mass that may be needed for transplanting into other areas of the body.