Do Dolphins Have Bones? 11 Facts You Should Know


Do Dolphins Have Bones? 11 Facts You Should Know

Wondering whether dolphins have bones? Allow us to take you through all the details on this topic.

Dolphins have bones just like humans and whales do. However, their bone structure is far less complex and lighter than that of humans. The bones of dolphins lend them tremendous balancing power, and they are able to easily navigate deep ocean waters. 

There are a lot of questions that people ask about dolphins and their bones. It is not easy to find the answers to all of them since the aquatic world is very layered and complex. However, here are 11 facts that you should certainly know about dolphins and their bones.  

How many bones do dolphins have?

Curious to know how many bones dolphins have? Let us learn all about it and more. 

Like all land mammals, dolphins have bones that are said to be around 300 in number, although it is not possible to determine the exact number. However, they have a radius, ulna, and humerus, along with a ball and socket joint. In addition, dolphins also have finger bones and a properly formed hand structure.

We must add here that the bones of dolphins are more flexible to allow them to glide effortlessly in the water. They are also lighter than human bones to lend greater agility to the moving dolphin. 

Do all dolphins have bones?

Image Credits: “chest of spotted dolphin bones – Voyage of the Blossom” by Tim Evanson is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Now that we know how many bones a dolphin has, are you wondering whether all dolphins have bones? Allow us to tell you more in this regard. 

All dolphins have bones, just like all mammals have bones. However, the point of difference is that dolphin bones are much lighter, and thereby, they have a weaker skeleton. Dolphins have fully formed hand bones, and a radius and ulna like humans do. The bones are designed to help them survive the challenges of continually living in the water. 

Of course, the bone structure of a dolphin has its own complexities since it was primarily designed to help the animal navigate deep ocean waters as well as swim quickly. That being said, it is nowhere as complex as the bone structure of humans or other mammals. 

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Do dolphins have bones in their fins?

Fins are an important part of a dolphin’s body. But are all dolphins equipped with bones in their fins? Let us find out.

Dolphins have dorsal and pectoral fins, and out of these only, the pectoral fins have bones. The dorsal fin of the dolphin is located on the top, and it aids in stabilizing and balancing the animal, whereas the pectoral fin is located on the lower side and has bones. The pectoral fin helps in steering the dolphin and enables continuous motion.

The bones present in the pectoral fin form a hand-like structure with phalanges or finger bones attached to it. The pectoral fins of dolphins are also called flippers, and it helps in balancing and steering the animal. 

Do dolphins have leg bones?

Wondering whether dolphins have bones on their legs? Allow us to tell you more in this regard. 

Dolphins do not have legs, and therefore, there is no scope for leg bones. However, like whales, they have a pelvic bone which serves the purpose of legs as well and leads to the tail bone. Dolphins have a set of tail bones that, together with the pelvic bone, are connected to strong muscles which allow the animal to glide smoothly in the ocean.

That being said, fossil remains have vouched for both whales and dolphins being four-footed animals millions of years ago. However, with evolution, dolphins adapted to the aquatic lifestyle, and the pelvic bones came to replace legs. The two rod-shaped pelvic bones of dolphins serve a very crucial function. 

Do dolphins have hollow bones?

Curious to know whether dolphin bones are hollow? Let us together explore all about this. 

Dolphins do not have hollow bones. In fact, their bones are made of dense tissues and fibers, just like that of humans. The only difference is that dolphin bones are slightly lighter and lack the proper structuring of a human skeletal system, but it is nonetheless quite efficient in facilitating the movement of the dolphin in the ocean.

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The bottom line is that the bones of dolphins, although not hollow are less dense than humans. Similarly, the bones of whales are not as dense as humans but are made up of tissues and fibers. 

Do dolphins have heavy bones?

Image Credits: “dolphin skull” by yacht_boy is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Wondering whether dolphins have heavy bones as humans do? Allow us to delve further into this discussion.

The bones of dolphins are not as heavy as humans, which makes it easy for them to navigate ocean waters. In fact, the skeletal system of a dolphin is much weaker than that of a human being. This is because human beings have a far more structured and dense skeletal system with numerous nerves, tissues, and bones. 

Needless to say, dolphins are pretty much weightless in the ocean. The skeletal structure of a shark is made of cartilage instead of bones which makes them even lighter than dolphins. 

Do dolphins have finger bones?

We all know dolphins have bones but do they have specific finger bones? Let us together find out. 

The finger bones of dolphins are among their most prominent feature and resemble the hand structure of humans very closely. The finger bones or phalanges are five in number and are located inside the pectoral fin (also called flippers). Even whales have similar finger bones located inside their flippers.

The pectoral fins of dolphins help them maintain balance and steer in the ocean, whereas the dorsal fin, which does not have any bones, is responsible for helping them move ahead in the water and glide effortlessly. 

Do dolphins have a backbone?

Curious to know whether dolphins have a backbone? Let us give you all the details.

Like all vertebrates, dolphins have a backbone, and it is highly flexible. This flexibility allows the dolphin to move its body with ease and swim through the ocean without any problems. However, the vertebrate around the neck region has become compressed, which makes this region very rigid, but it is still not as rigid as the bones of humans, which are very well fused together.

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The backbone facilitates movement in the dolphin and allows them to swim in different directions – be it up and down or side to side.

Why do dolphins have pelvic bones?

Wondering why dolphins have such strong pelvic bones? Let us tell you more about it.

The pelvic bones of dolphins and whales serve a limb-like function and have actually evolved from their ancestors who walked on land millions of years ago. The pelvic bones have strong muscles that enable the dolphin to move smoothly and help in reproduction purposes as well. 

The hind limbs of dolphins and whales have completely disappeared, and there just remain traces of these pelvic bones, which serve a practical function.

How many bones do bottlenose dolphins have?

Curious to know how many bones bottlenose dolphins have? Let us tell you all about it. 

Bottlenose dolphins have bones just like all dolphins, but it is not possible to determine the exact number. They have a radius and ulna, humerus with a ball and socket joint, and pectoral fins leading to the five phalanges. In addition, they have pelvic bones as well. 

An interesting aspect about dolphins and their bone structure is that it is quite lightweight and flexible, which allows the animal to glide smoothly in water and swim at high speed. 


Whales and dolphins used to be land mammals that, through years and years of evolution, have adapted to an aquatic environment. Dolphins have a very streamlined body and specific diet requirements. They are carnivores and are active hunters, eating quite indiscriminately.  

The bones of dolphins help them steer in the water while maintaining their balance, thus preventing them from drowning. Therefore, besides giving proper structure to the mammal, the bones of dolphins also serve several practical purposes. 

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