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Do reptiles have ears? © Getty Images

Do reptiles have ears?

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Some reptiles, like snakes have no visible ears at all, whereas others have much simpler designs when compared to those that stick out on most mammals.

Asked by: Ben Dawson, Exeter


Some reptiles, notably snakes, don't have ears at all. Those that do have a much simpler ear design than mammals, with the eardrum either flush with the side of the head or only slightly recessed.

Around 260 million years ago, as mammal and reptile lineages first began to diverge, some of the bones of the reptile jaw evolved to form the specialised bones of the inner ear. This placed the eardrum much deeper into the head and probably favoured the evolution of an external ear structure to funnel the sound down towards it.

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Luis VillazonQ&A expert

Luis trained as a zoologist, but now works as a science and technology educator. In his spare time he builds 3D-printed robots, in the hope that he will be spared when the revolution inevitably comes.


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