Why Do We Have Kneecaps, But No Elbowcaps?

The kneecap — or patella — is a sesamoid bone, which means that unlike most bones in the body it grows within the tendons that attach muscles to certain joints. Sesamoids form where a tendon passes over a joint, and their purpose is to protect the tendon and to increase its mechanical effect. Human knees are placed under a great amount of stress due to walking upright, and the kneecap is there to help maintain the knee’s movement and ability to flex in the correct manner. Since we don’t walk on our hands, the elbow doesn't suffer these stresses. In addition, it would seem reasonable that since our knees face forwards (the same direction that we crawl) and our elbows face backwards, the kneecap evolved to protect the knee, whereas the elbow didn't require such protection. So, now you have a bit of useless information you can pull out at parties and impress your guests with why they don’t have elbowcaps.