By Janet Rae-Dupree, Pat DuPree

Make no bones about it — the human skeleton is a trove of trivia. For example, try a few of these fun facts on for size:

  • People are born with 300 bones in their infant bodies, but by the time they’re adults, they only have 206. Why? Because human bodies spend infancy and childhood putting the finishing touches on their skeletons, knitting together two or more bones into one. The only bone fully grown at birth is in the ear. Plus, over a period of about seven years, each bone in the body is slowly replaced until it is a new bone.

    [Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/angelhell]
    Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/angelhell
  • You’re taller in the morning. No, really, you are. After you stand up from bed and get your day going, the cartilage between your back bones becomes compressed over time. By the end of the day, you’re about one centimeter shorter.

  • Bones make up about 14 percent of an average individual’s weight, yet they’re as strong as granite. A block of bone the size of a matchbox can support 9 tons — four times more weight than concrete.

  • Bones can self-destruct. Excessive exposure to cadmium can prompt them to do so by triggering premature apoptosis, the controlled death of cells that takes place as part of normal growth and development. Alternatively, if you’re not taking in enough calcium, certain hormones can leach calcium from your own bones to try to balance the blood’s supply of this essential mineral.