How mammals grow ears: With a flaw | Science News



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How mammals grow ears: With a flaw

Newly discovered rupture-and-repair process could explain a lot about infections and hearing defects

3:43pm, March 22, 2013

Hey evolution, thanks for nothing. When a mammal embryo develops, its middle ear appears to form in a pop-and-patch way that seals one end with substandard, infection-prone tissue.

“The way evolution works doesn’t always create the most perfect, engineered structure,” says Abigail Tucker, a developmental biologist at King’s College London. “Definitely, it’s made an ear that’s slightly imperfect.”

The mammalian middle ear catches sound and transfers it, using three tiny bones that jiggle against the eardrum, to the inner ear chamber. Those three bones — the hammer, anvil and stirrup — are a

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