How mammals grow ears: With a flaw

How mammals grow ears: With a flaw

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

By Susan Milius, 15:51 PM 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 ag...

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