Bone Elongation

Bones continue to develop after a person's birth. Between early childhood and late adolescence, bone cells gradually replace the cartilage in long bones of limbs, such as the arms and legs. Bone elongation takes place near the ends of long bones in an area known as the epiphyseal (EP-uh-FIZ-ee-uhl) plate. As shown in Figure 45-6a, the epiphyseal plate is composed of cartilage cells that divide and form columns, pushing older cells toward the middle of the bone. As these older cells die, they are replaced by new bone cells. Growth continues, as shown in Figure 45-6b, until bone has replaced all the cartilage in the epiphyseal plate. At this point, bones no longer elongate and a person has usually reached full height. The epiphyseal plates then become epiphyseal lines.

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