Cartilage is not as rigid as bone, but is less flexible than muscle. It provides structure and support to other body tissues, and provides cushioning between joints.
There are three types of cartilage: hyaline cartilage, elastic cartilage, and fibrocartilage. Hyaline cartilage can be found on the end of bones at joints, on the end of ribs, and on the larynx, trachea, and bronchi. Elastic cartilage is found in the outer ear, larynx, and epiglottis. As the name implies, it is more elastic than the other forms of cartilage. This elastic nature provides greater flexibility so it can withstand repeated bending. Bend your outer ear and you can feel elastic cartilage at work. Fibrocartilage can be found in intervertebral discs, meniscus (e.g., knee joint), and the jaw joint. It is flexible, and yet has the highest tensile strength of the cartilage types. This strength under compression provides for effective cushioning between vertebral discs, and other joints subject to considerable pressure.