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Big Ears

Some doctors thought it might be interesting to find out if older people's ears are actually bigger, or if it's just an illusion.

Backside of old man's ears

Photo: ninjawil (flickr)

Some doctors discovered that ears grow a little bit each year, but that men's ears usually end up being bigger despite the same growth rate between men and women

“Oh my grandma, what big ears you have.”

While a group of British doctors were not trying to add some science to the Little Red Riding Hood tale, they did think it might be interesting to find out if older people’s ears are actually bigger, or if it’s just an illusion.

The doctors measured the ears of nearly 200 patients, from the top of the ear to the end of the lobe. The doctors pooled their data and analyzed it, taking into account such things as natural variations in ear size, as well as earring wearing.

Sure enough, they found that ears do grow a tiny bit each year, enough to add up to about half an inch over fifty years for both men and women. Although mens’ ears are on average larger than womens’, the growth is about the same.

James Heathcote, who was in charge of the study, theorized that ears grow throughout life because they are made of cartilage. Cartilage continues to grow, unlike bone, which normally stops growing sometime after puberty.

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