The Human Body

Ear

Ear, organ of hearing and balance. Only vertebrates, or animals with backbones, have ears. Invertebrate animals, such as jellyfish and insects, lack ears, but have other structures or organs that serve similar functions. The most complex and highly developed ears are those of mammals.

The human ear consists of three sections: the outer ear, the middle ear, and the inner ear. The outer ear includes the auricle (pinna), the visible part of the ear that is attached to the side of the head, and the waxy, dirt-trapping auditory canal. The tympanic membrane (eardrum) separates the external ear from the middle ear, an air-filled cavity. Bridging this cavity are three small bones—the malleus (hammer), the incus (anvil), and the stapes (stirrup). The cochlea and semicircular canals make up the inner ear..

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