Health

British Ears

Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news
 

Do old folks have big ears? That’s the not exactly burning question the British Royal College of General Practitioners decided to answer, as a way of encouraging regular physicians to do more research. James Heathcote, a doctor from Kent, England, and several other doctors measured the length of the ear in 206 patients, male and female, between the ages of 30 and 93, from lobe to ear top. After accounting for natural variations in ear size and things like earring wearing (earrings tend to lengthen the lobe but don’t change the ear’s overall growth rate), the doctors found that ears grow about .0087 inch a year, or about half an inch over 50 years. Women, Heathcote says, start out with smaller ears, but theirs grow at about the same rate as men’s. As to why ears keep growing, Heathcote speculates that it’s because of the difference between cartilage, which ears are made of, and bone. Your bones are largely governed by your sex hormones, so they grow at puberty and are then stopped from growing, he says. But cartilage seems to grow steadily. Noses are also mostly cartilage, and Heathcote suspects they also grow with age.

1 free article left
Want More? Get unlimited access for as low as $1.99/month

Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

1 free articleSubscribe
Discover Magazine Logo
Want more?

Keep reading for as low as $1.99!

Subscribe

Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

More From Discover
Recommendations From Our Store
Shop Now
Stay Curious
Join
Our List

Sign up for our weekly science updates.

 
Subscribe
To The Magazine

Save up to 70% off the cover price when you subscribe to Discover magazine.

Copyright © 2021 Kalmbach Media Co.