We all know that our ears let us hear sounds but did you know some animals use their ears for more than just hearing? African elephants have big ears which they flap forwards and backwards to cool themselves down with. Bats use their ears to pick up special frequencies to calculate how far away objects are, and other animals use their ears to signal to each other, like a secret sign language.
Ears are funny looking things, they have squidgy bits and harder bits, they can bend and be pulled and they are completely unique. Everyone has slightly different shaped ears, some are more round or pointy, some poke out more or have bigger lobes. Take a look at your ears and see how they’re different from others.
Why two ears?
Two ears help us get a better sense of direction of where a sound is coming from. If a sound is louder in one ear than the other or reaches one ear before the other than the brain can know where the sound is coming from. Having one ear on each side of the head also lets us hear better, it means we can pick up even more sounds.
How we hear
Ears work by receiving and directing sounds to the inside of the ear, where it is sent to the brain by nerves. The brain lets us know what we are hearing and tells us how to respond. This whole system is called the auditory system.
The ear is made up of three parts: the outer ear, the middle ear and the inner ear.
The outer ear collects sound waves and carries them to the middle ear.
The middle ear transforms the sound waves to vibrations thanks to the eardrum.
The inner ear converts vibrations to nerve signals which are sent to the brain.