Can you wiggle your ears

Interesting facts: Wiggling your ears

Kiel (ddp). What can be a vital skill for animals is only good for humans as a gag for a children's birthday party: Those who are able to wiggle their ears can be sure of admiring glances. But why can't all humans move their ears like most animals?

"For humans, the mobility of the auricles does not play such an important role in locating the direction from which a sound is coming," explains Jobst Sievers, professor of anatomy at Kiel University.

Pointing the ears is widespread in the animal world. For example, deer, rabbits or dogs set up their eavesdroppers in case of danger and try to locate the origin of suspicious noises with the help of ear movements. This ability is particularly important for crepuscular or nocturnal animals, as they can rely less on their sense of sight, says Sievers. However, some animals also use their movable ears for other purposes: "Elephants, for example, fan their ears to regulate their body temperature."

In humans, on the other hand, the ear muscles have atrophied in the course of evolution. "The eyes were more important in our development," explains Sievers. Since humans, in contrast to many animal species, have an excellent sense of sight, precise directional hearing with the ears was rather not essential for survival. "We see a possible attacker rather than having to rely on laboriously locating him with our ears," explains the anatomy expert. And after all, people do not have to use their hearing organs to cool off in extreme heat.

Rudimentary remnants of past ear mobility can still be admired in some people. However, the ability to wiggle ears is probably not due to the ear muscles in most of them, but to the scalp muscles that run in the scalp over the skull, says Sievers: "If you can actually move your ear muscles, you should not just wiggle your ears, but can also move the entire auricle back and forth ".

However, this ability is probably not very widespread, says the anatomist. However, this does not mean that it cannot be learned: As with many other muscles, the mobility of the ear muscles is possibly just a question of training.