I've got a subspecies of human, Homo Volantes, that has been designed to live both in zero-G and in surface gravity. Several adaptations have been made, one of them including the replacement of fragile, normal human bones with artificial nanobots serving as their skeletal cells.

For the purposes of this question, here's the most relevant information about the skeleton.

  1. The materials of the skeleton are non-toxic to human cells
  2. The bones are effectively unbreakable and unmalleable
  3. While the H. Volantes is growing, individual cells can delete themselves to allow for the change in shape to occur
  4. The shape of the skeleton is the exact same as a human

The core of this question is essentially are there any vital functions of a skeleton that would be hindered by the skeleton being unmalleable and unbreakable?

Some mostly irrelevant information that might be useful if you need it.

  • This subspecies is mostly human, with the only adaptations being an increased control over circulatory system pressure, and the metallic skeleton. Nothing else is changed.
  • This subspecies spends their entire lives in large space stations in orbit around the Earth, however they occasionally spend time on the surface.
  • Their metabolism has been modified to allow them to intake the materials required for the growth of the skeleton
  • $\begingroup$ If each "bone" is made-up of individual nanobots (analog of bone-cells in humans), then the strength of these bones will also depend on how strong those nanobots bond together. How did you address this problem? Do the bots integrate themselves inside a metal mesh for extra strength? $\endgroup$ Sep 18, 2018 at 7:46
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Calcium is a metal. Bones have marrow, and marrow makes red blood cells. With "nanobot bones", you'd die pretty soon. $\endgroup$
    – RonJohn
    Sep 18, 2018 at 7:48
  • $\begingroup$ Also, see worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/113133/… $\endgroup$
    – RonJohn
    Sep 18, 2018 at 7:49
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Please, Homo volans. Volantes is plural, and scientific names are expected to respect basic Latin rules of agreement. Then, the specific attribute is never capitalized. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Sep 18, 2018 at 8:59
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Since you're inventing the tech, its your call, but I don't understand why they need to be so unbreakable. If they are a matrix of nanobots, allow them to communicate and decide as a whole what the situation requires. Perhaps allowing some bend or compression will be best. Heck, even dissolving (and not breaking the skin or other organs) and then reassembling could be possibly be the way of absorbing most of the impact. Call it SmartBone 2k and we'll be rich! $\endgroup$ Sep 18, 2018 at 13:56

2 Answers 2


Their joints would be a mess and they would suffer way more from blunt or sharp trauma, since their flesh would be basically smacked against a wall everytime they get punched.

Also, concussions would be way, way more severe, to the point of being potentially lethal.

Apart from that they should be good (as long as the "bones" grow a little bit differently (faster) during childhood,especially the head.

  • $\begingroup$ Just to clarify the point about injuries. When you fall, or get hit, kinetic energy has to go somewhere. Instead of breaking the bones, it will rip apart tendons and joints, or bang up internal organs, including the brain. If you have bones made from nanobots, why not have those nanobots act as springs or shock absorbers to minimize the damage to soft tissues, and then return to original shape. $\endgroup$
    – Bald Bear
    Sep 18, 2018 at 19:33
  • $\begingroup$ @Bald Bear My meaning behind that was that our bones are somewhat flexible, so when you get punched/hit, they bend a bit to absorb some of the shock (and in high-stress situations, even the millimeter budging of the bone can save your flesh), however: OP said that the new bones are 100% inflexible, hence the increased injuries. $\endgroup$
    – Hobbamok
    Sep 19, 2018 at 8:07
  • $\begingroup$ @BaldBear OP has stated that the bones are inflexible, not unbreakable - your situation is plausible with light knocks - but since the bones absorb impacts by flexing and/or forming microfractures that heal fairly quickly (and get reinforced, strengthening the bones in the necessary areas without wasting resources on areas that don't need it) an inflexible bone will go straight from "solid" to "snapped" or "shattered", and probably at a lower impact force than it takes to break our flexible bones. $\endgroup$ Sep 19, 2018 at 8:44
  • $\begingroup$ @Chronocidal I think neither you nor Bald bear has understood my point with the injuries from punching: My focus was on the flesh/muscles suffering more due to the inflexibility of the bones behind them. The bones breaking is up to OP. $\endgroup$
    – Hobbamok
    Sep 19, 2018 at 8:48
  • $\begingroup$ @Hobbamok 2 points: first, the bones breaking would act to absorb impact force and reduce damage to the flesh in those circumstances, and second: if you're taking that sort of damage from throwing a punch then your punching technique is wrong. A properly aligned punch may cause slightly more of a jolt at the shoulder/elbow with inflexible bones, but so long as you aren't doing something stupid like locking the joints out (and giving yourself tennis elbow) then the muscles/tendons/ligaments will absorb that without issue. It's analogous to how I punch through inflexible concrete blocks. $\endgroup$ Sep 19, 2018 at 8:54

If the bones are completely inflexible then that wouldn't be much different than real bones the lack of marrow however would cause them to die pretty quickly


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