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kneecap(patella), saucer-shaped bone at the front of the knee joint; it protects the ends of the femur, or thighbone, and the tibia, the large bone of the foreleg. The kneecap is embedded in the tendon tissue of the quadriceps femoris, a large thigh muscle. As the leg bends and straightens, the kneecap glides up and down in a groove of the femur. Dislocation of the kneecap is a common athletic injury, occurring when stress on the powerful extensor muscles that straighten the leg pulls the kneecap to one side. See skeletonskeleton,
in anatomy, the stiff supportive framework of the body. The two basic types of skeleton found among animals are the exoskeleton and the endoskeleton. The shell of the clam is an exoskeleton composed primarily of calcium carbonate.
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McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.