The best human skeleton model
If you're in the market for a human skeleton model, it's probably because you're a teacher, professor, or student. These three-dimensional models are essential tools to help teach or learn all 206 bones in the body.
Textbooks, posters, and exams can only go so far with two-dimensional information. When you introduce students to a human skeleton model with which they can interact and touch, that's when they really begin to understand the skeletal system. Realistic grooves, curvatures, and proportional dimensions give students a much deeper understanding of each bone, as well as how it functions with the rest of the body.
Read our buying guide to find the best human skeleton model for your classroom or office and compare features. Our top pick is the Axis Scientific Human Skeleton Anatomy Model, which is well-suited for classrooms with its high level of detail.
Considerations when choosing human skeleton models
Types of models
Educational human skeleton models are popular for students of all ages, from grade school up to medical school students. They're usually realistic and proportional and can be labeled or taken apart during lessons.
There are also some human skeleton models used as theatrical or holiday props. Not all bones in prop models are separate or articulating, so detail can be somewhat blurred. Quality varies considerably, especially when it comes to how bones are fused or attached to one another.
Desktop human skeleton models are usually less than 24 inches tall and can fit on most desks. Since they're smaller than full-size models, it's sometimes difficult to view all the nooks and crannies of the bones.
Compact models are between 30 and 48 inches tall and are popular for classrooms and physicians' offices. They're usually affixed to a stable base, so while it's possible to move them from table to table, transporting them can be challenging.
Full-size human skeleton models are anywhere from 60 to 72 inches and are typically used in educational settings. While they come with a premium price, they have the most detail and articulating parts, and they often include companion materials.
Human skeleton models with stationary bases are stable, even when you're manipulating the skeleton. If you prefer a portable human skeleton model, choose one with a rolling base. This means you can wheel the model around the classroom and turn it in various directions to provide multiple angles for viewing.
Human skeleton models have articulating parts that are anatomically accurate. This helps to display joints, range of motion, and how bones interact with muscles, ligaments, tendons, and systems. Keep in mind that no matter how durable or well-made the skeleton is, frequent handling will eventually cause articulating parts to deteriorate.
Some human skeletons have removable parts, which are helpful hands-on aids for further examination. Premium models feature removable skulls to allow for total inspection of the cranium. Other models have removable hand and foot bones to examine metacarpals and metatarsals in depth.
Some human skeleton models are labeled and others come with a series of stickers for labeling. It's not an essential feature for models, though some educators feel it's a convenient alternative to simply pointing or using Post-it notes.
For less than $100, you can find a decent array of desktop human skeleton models. Compact models run closer to $150, and they're usually made with better, longer-lasting materials. Full-size, highly detailed educational models can cost $200 and above.
Q. What are human skeleton models made of?
A. Educational models are usually made of dense, high-quality PVC. Less expensive models (such as those used for props) are made of lightweight plastic that crushes or compresses easily.
Q. Do human skeleton models come with slipcovers?
A. Only select models come with covers or cases, so you probably have to purchase one separately. If you find that slipcovers are pricey, you can use a tarp, sheet, or tablecloth instead.
Human skeleton models we recommend
Best of the best: Axis Scientific's Human Skeleton Anatomy Model
Our take: Top-notch educational model with realistic detail.
What we like: Portable with a wheeled stand. Full-color stickers help with labeling. Detachable pieces.
What we dislike: Stickers could fall off after time.
Best bang for your buck: hBARSCI's Disarticulated Human Skeleton
Our take: Disarticulated skeleton with removable skull cap for in-depth examination.
What we like: Realistic hinged jaw bone and intervertebral discs. Comes with a helpful 3D poster.
What we dislike: Since they're not assembled, you need to store bones in such a way that none end up misplaced.
Our take: Well-rounded, detailed set including skeleton, brain, body, and heart models.
What we like: Integrated set for classrooms. Vibrant color and fine detail are visible to students all around a room.
What we dislike: Disassembly requires some work, so it's best if you can leave models assembled.
Sian Babish is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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