Feeds

Do our ears grow longer with age?

Do your ears hang low, do they wobble to and fro...

Security for virtualized datacentres

Also in this week's column:

Do our ears grow longer with age?

Asked by Judith Berry of Staffordshire, United Kingdom

As we see others age or as we see ourselves age, we often notice that ears appear to get longer in middle and old age. But do they really?

The scientific validity of this common observation has been challenged from time to time by those who maintain that ears don't really grow longer (or larger) with age - they only look as if they do - that it's all just an illusion.

They point out that since the body shrinks somewhat with age, the ears may appear to have grown longer (and larger) while actually staying the same size. So what does science say? In fact, our ears do grow longer with age. Indeed, they grow throughout our lives.

In 1990, Drs L Pelz and B Stein from Medical Branch of the University of Rostock in Germany measured the ears of 1,271 children and adolescents. They report in Padiatrie und Grenzgebiete that ear length increases "steadily and annually", but ear width remains the same.

Dr James Heathcote, a general practitioner from Kent in the UK, along with four colleagues, studied 206 patients with the mean age of 53. Dr Heathcote concluded in the 23 December 1995 British Medical Journal, that "as we get older our ears get bigger (on average by 0.22mm a year)".

The next year, in the 2 March British Medical Journal, Dr Yashhiro Asai, a physician at the Futanazu Clinic in Misaki, Japan, along with three colleagues, agreed with Heathcote. Their study of 400 consecutive patients aged 20 and older concludes "that ear length correlates significantly with age, as Heathcote showed, in Japanese people".

In 1999, Dr VF Ferrario and four colleagues from the Functional Anatomy Research Centre at the University of Milan in Italy, writing in the Journal of Craniofacial Genetic Developmental Biology, present evidence that not only do ears get longer with age, but it happens to both women and men. Men’s ears start out longer than women's and they stay that way.

Why ears grow longer with age? Gravity over time forces every body appendage to sag. The bane of human aging: If it can sag, it will sag! Ears included.

Stephen Juan, Ph.D. is an anthropologist at the University of Sydney. Email your Odd Body questions to s.juan@edfac.usyd.edu.au

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Boffins who stare at goats: I do believe they’re SHRINKING
Alpine chamois being squashed by global warming
What's that STINK? Rosetta probe shoves nose under comet's tail
Rotten eggs, horse dung and almonds – yuck
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
Kip Thorne explains how he created the black hole for Interstellar
Movie special effects project spawns academic papers on gravitational lensing
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
LONG ARM of the SAUR: Brachially gifted dino bone conundrum solved
Deinocheirus mirificus was a bit of a knuckle dragger
Moment of truth for LOHAN's servos: Our US allies are poised for final test flight
Will Vulture 2 freeze at altitude? Edge Research Lab to find out
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.