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Specialised Connective Tissue: Cartilage and Its Types and Functions of Cartilages

Specialised Connective Tissue: Cartilage and Its Types and Functions of Cartilages

Let’s do a fun activity !!

Try to touch your nose and ear pinna with your finger tips. How do you feel?


Do you feel these structures are soft and smooth? Have you ever thought why is it like this?

Yes, these structures are soft due to the presence of cartilages. Cartilages are soft tissue that are present in these structures. Moreover, cartilages provide a cushion cover around the bones. This makes the movement smoother. It is a flexible connective tissue. 

Now you are thinking about the connective tissue. What is it then?

Connective tissue is a type of tissue that supports and provides structures to other tissues. In common terms, we can say, it is a medium that provides support to the body.

Table of Contents

Skeletal tissue

It forms the endoskeleton of vertebrates. It supports the body and protects all the vital organs from damages. It is of two types as follows:

  • Cartilage
  • Bone


In this type of tissue the intercellular material is considered as solid and pliable. It resists compression. The cells of cartilage are known as Chondrocytes. They lie in groups of 2 - 3 in small cavities called lacunae. These cavities are embedded in the matrix made up of glycosaminoglycans, proteoglycans, collagen fibres and elastin. The stiff sheath that covers the cartilage externally is called perichondrium. Most of the cartilages present in vertebrate embryos are replaced by bones when they become adults.


Locations of Cartilage

They are commonly found in the tip of the nose, between adjacent bones of the vertebral column, outer ear joints, hands and limbs of adults.

location of cartilage in the body

Types of Cartilage

Cartilages are of different types as follows: 

  • Hyaline cartilage
  • Elastic cartilage
  • Fibrocartilage

Hyaline Cartilage

It is the most abundant type of cartilage. It is flexible, strong and elastic. It is composed of type II collagen fibres. It is present in the ribs, nose, larynx and trachea. Hyaline cartilage is bluish white in colour and glassy in appearance. 

Functions of Hyaline Cartilage

Hyaline cartilage performs the following functions:

  • It reduces friction at joints because of the smooth surface of cartilage. Hence it is called Articular cartilage.
  • It supports the C-shaped cartilaginous rings of the windpipe to keep the tube open.
  • It forms part of the larynx, sternum and bronchi.

hyaline cartilage

Elastic Cartilage

It is composed of type II collagen and yellow elastin fibres. It is found in external ears, epiglottis and larynx. 

Functions of Elastic Cartilage

Elastic cartilage helps to maintain the shape and flexibility of the organs.

elastic cartoilage


It is composed of type I collagen fibres. It is present in joints and ligaments. Fibrocartilage is an extremely tough tissue.

Functions of Fibrocartilage

Fibrocartilage perform the following functions:

1. It acts as a shock absorber between adjacent vertebrae.
2. It provides sturdiness between bones that allow some degree of movement.


Practice Problems of Specialised Connective Tissue

Question 1. Which of the following characteristics does not apply to cartilage's intercellular material?

a. Solid
b. Pliable
c. Resists compression
d. Hard

Answer: Cartilage has a soft, firm, pliable intercellular matrix that resists compression. In adults, bones replace most of the cartilages of vertebrate embryos. Hence, the correct option is d.

Question 2. Which of the following cells can be located in the pinna of the ear's structural tissue?

a. Osteocytes
b. Chondrocytes
c. Neurons
d. Myofibrils

Answer: The pinna of the ear is made up of cartilage, which is a type of specialised connective tissue. These tissues are made up of chondrocytes, which are tiny cells that are encased in small cavities inside the matrix. Hence, the correct option is b.

Question 3. Which tissue's cells are chondrocytes?

a. Cartilage
b. Bone
c. Muscle
d. Blood

Answer: In adults, cartilage can be found in the tip of the nose, the outer ear joints, the spinal column, the limbs, and the hands. The cells of cartilage tissue are known as chondrocytes. They are enclosed in small cavities. Hence, the correct option is a.

Question 4. The skeletal structures that support the human external ears and the tip of the nose are examples of ____________________.

a. ligaments
b. areolar tissue
c. bone
d. cartilage

Answer: The supporting skeletal components of the human external ears and nose tip are known as cartilage. Cartilage's intercellular substance is solid and pliable, and it resists compression. Adults have cartilage in their spinal column, limbs, and hands. Hence, the correct option is d.

FAQs of Specialised Connective Tissue

Question 1. Which type of cartilage is present in the larynx and trachea?

Answer: Hyaline cartilage is found in trachea and larynx. It keeps the tube open by supporting the C-shaped cartilaginous rings of the windpipe.

Question 2. Which cartilage maintains the shape and flexibility of an organ?

Answer: Elastic cartilage maintains the shape and flexibility of an organ. It's made up of yellow elastin fibres and type II collagen. For example, it maintains the form and flexibility of external ears.

3. What are the functions of fibrocartilage?

Answer: Fibrocartilage mainly performs two functions as follows:

  • It acts as a shock absorber between adjacent vertebrae.
  • It forms a firm joint between the bones that allow movement.

Question 4. Name a firm sheath that externally covers the cartilage?

Answer: A rigid coating termed perichondrium surrounds cartilage on the outside. This layer is fibrous in nature that allows the blood to easily pass through the body.

Related Topics to Epithelial Tissues in Biology

NCERT Class 11 Biology Chapters

The Living World Biological Classification Plant Kingdom
Animal Kingdom Morphology of Flowering Plants Anatomy of Flowering Plants
Structural Organization in Animals Cells: The Unit of Life Biomolecules
Cell Cycle and Division Transport in Plants Mineral Nutrition
Photosynthesis in Higher Plants Respiration in Plants Plant Growth and Development
Digestion and Absorption Breathing and Exchange of Gases Body Fluids and Circulation
Excretory Products and their Elimination Locomotion and Movement Neural Control and Coordination
Chemical Coordination and Integration
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