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ancient Greek formation of infantry. The soldiers were arrayed in rows (8 or 16), with arms at the ready, making a solid block that could sweep bristling through the more dispersed ranks of the enemy. Originally employed by the Spartans, it was developed by Epaminondas of Thebes (d. 362 B.C.). Use of the phalanx reached its apex when Philip II and Alexander the Great used the great Macedonian phalanx (16 deep and armed with the sarissa, a spear c.13 ft/4 m long) to conquer all Greece and the Middle East. Later, the Macedonian phalanx deteriorated and had few Macedonians in it; it was defeated in several battles with the Romans who conquered (168 B.C.) the Macedonians at Pydna. Thereafter the phalanx was obsolete. Because it lacked tactical flexilibity, the phalanx was a better defensive than offensive formation.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



in anatomy, one of the small tubular bones of the fingers and toes in vertebrates. The structure of the digits in an animal is closely related to the animal’s way of life.

A convenient way of expressing the number of phalanges in the digits is provided by what is called the phalangeal formula, which gives the number of phalanges in each digit, beginning with the first. For the tailed amphibians and for the ancient terrestrial vertebrates known as the Stegocephalia, the number of phalanges in the first through fourth digits of the forelimbs is expressed by the formula; for the forelimbs of most tailless amphibians, the formula is The hind limbs of the Stegocephalia and tailless amphibians are characterized by the formula, and the hind limbs of the tailed amphibians by the formula 2(1).

Reptiles have a greater number of phalanges, ordinarily, in both the anterior and posterior extremities; among turtles the number may drop to 1 or 2 per digit. The extinct ichthyosaurs had as many as several dozen phalanges; this hyperphalangia increased the flexibility of the extremity that had been transformed into a fin. In birds the forelimb was transformed into a wing and retained only three digits—the second through fourth. The third digit has two or three phalanges; the second and fourth usually have one rudimentary phalanx each.

Among mammals five digits are most frequently found on both anterior and posterior extremities, and the phalangeal formula is The flippers of aquatic mammals (Cetacea) exhibit hyperphalangia. Among flying mammals (Chiroptera) the second through fifth digits are elongated and webbed for flying. The phalanges of the digits of climbing mammals are broadened and are convex on the back side of the extremity and concave on the palm side.

In man each finger and toe, except the thumb and big toe, consists of three phalanges: the proximal, middle, and terminal, or ungual. The thumb and big toe have two phalanges. The proximal phalanges are connected with the heads of the metacarpal bones (in the hand) and the metatarsal bones (in the foot) by means of ball-and-socket joints. The phalanges are connected to each other by hinge joints, which allow the digits to bend and unbend.




a close line formation of the Greek infantry (hoplites) in battle. A phalanx was deployed along the front in eight to 16 ranks, sometimes as many as 25. When a rank comprised 1,000 men, the phalanx could extend for 500 m. It was used as early as the Trojan War but assumed its final form in the sixth century B.C. The formation was refined by Philip II of Mace-don, who added peltasts (seePELTASTS) and cavalry. The large Macedonian phalanx contained 16,384 hoplites, 8,192 peltasts, and 4,096 cavalry.

The main subdivisions of the phalanx were the lochus, consisting of one rank of 16 hoplites, the syntagma, comprising 16 lochi, and the small phalanx, comprising 16 syntagmas. A given maneuver could be executed using combinations of the various subdivisions. The battle formation could also assume various forms, including a square, an echelon unit, or pincers. The phalanx was best suited to frontal attack by hoplites armed with the sarissa, a long pike. The tactical phalanx operated as a single unit and struck with considerable force in a frontal assault. It was relatively immobile, however, and in motion its ranks quickly became disorganized. The formation was used in ancient Rome until the introduction of the maniple in the late fourth century B.C., as well as in later Rome in wars against the barbarians.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


One of the bones of the fingers or toes.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


1. (in Fourierism) a group of approximately 1800 persons forming a commune in which all property is collectively owned
2. Anatomy any of the bones of the fingers or toes
3. Botany
a. a bundle of stamens, joined together by their stalks (filaments)
b. a form of vegetative spread in which the advance is on a broad front, as in the common reed.
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Radiographs of the thumb are typically obtained to assess for metacarpal fractures or fractures at the base of the proximal phalanx, as well as for volar subluxation and squaring of the metacarpal head.
The angle between the growth plate and the distal articular surface of the proximal phalanx was 5.0[degrees].
Closed reduction and percutaneous K-wires versus open reduction and interosseous loop wires for displaced unstable transverse fractures of the shaft of the proximal phalanx of the fingers in industrial workers.
The presented case had closed femoral shaft, styloid ulna, and proximal phalanx of second finger fractures.
Stage 5 (MP3cap - PP1cap - Rcap): Diaphysis is cov-ered by cap shaped epiphysis; in MP3cap, process begins at middle phalanx of third finger; in PP1cap, at proximal phalanx of thumb; in Rcap, at radius.
The four lumbricals (flex metacarpophalangeal (MCP) joint and extend interphalangeal (IP) joint of each finger) arise from the tendons of the flexor digitorum profundus and insert into the radial sides of each finger proximal phalanx. The first two lumbricals are supplied by the median nerve whilst the third and fourth are supplied by the ulnar nerve.
Shape of convex concave proximal margin of proximal phalanx of toes I-III in lateral view Table 2.
Quantitative ultrasound was used to assess the axial speed of sound along the distal third of the radius, the proximal phalanx of the third finger, and the midshaft of the tibia.
However, a review of the literature does not reveal any references that note the specific prevalence of the condition, although it has been noted that the second MTPJ is the most commonly dislocated joint in the foot.1,2 Dorsal subluxation or dislocation of the proximal phalanx base on the metatarsal head occurs secondary to laxity or attenuation of the periarticular structures.
This results in a Salter fracture of the proximal phalanx of the thumb in an immature athlete.
Locality Catalog Number Skeletal Element 11A CMN 48628 right third metacarpal 11A CMN 48646 second phalanx digit 4 pes 11A CMN 24192 molariform 11A CMN 48661 left upper caniniform 11A CMN 22567 proximal phalanx 11A CMN 26193 proximal half ungual digit 3 manus 11A CMN 48449 second phalanx manus 11A CMN 24194 proximal right calcaneum 11A CMN 48656 proximal right calcaneum 22 CMN 14528 molariform 22 CMN 19203 upper fifth molariform 24 CMN 14883 second phalanx 29 CMN 14882 proximal half ungual 42 CMN 33247 molariform 44 CMN 43457 second phalanx 66 CMN 25148 left astragalus 66 CMN 31146 proximal phalanx 66 CMN 24215 left lower caniniform 66 CMN 23042 proximal phalanx digit 3 manus 84 CMN 31778 left upper caniniform 144 CMN 28550 second phalanx digit 3 manus D CMN 43284 proximal phalanx

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