Are Ear Folds for Piercing?

As a public school teacher, I always hate it when a parent challenges one of my students, expecting me to back them up. One of my girls had 14 pieces of jewelry embedded in different parts of her ear, and her mother began the parent/teacher/student conference by asking if I thought it was attractive. I was stuttering as I tried to avoid saying something that would alienate me from the girl. The girl finally said "Mom, all those folds in the pinna are just made for studs and rocks, so I just use it for that!" I finally had a comment I could do something with, especially since the purpose of the outer ear had been brought up.

The ear is one of the engineering marvels of the world. The part of the ear we are focusing on in this article is the part you see--the outer ear called the pinna. This outer part made of cartilage, and skin is not just a display case for men's and women's vanity. It is a vital part of our hearing machinery, and is designed to do a very specific job.

When a sound enters the outer ear, it bounces around the pinna's edges, enhancing some frequencies and damping others. Since everyone's ears are different, the sound that comes to the brain is unique to the individual, and the brain learns the pattern the person's pinna sends. The pinna's pattern tells the brain whether the sound is above us or below us. Horizontal recognition of a sound is accomplished by sound coming to the brain from the two ears.

When scientists alter the shape of the pinna by wax molds, the subjects were unable to tell whether the sound was above or below them. In three weeks or so the brain relearned the ear shape, and the subjects were able to regain their ability to recognize vertical positions.

We really hear with our brains, just as we see with our brains, but our eyes and ears are incredibly well engineered to provide our brain with data that makes our senses work. The outer ear can be decorated in all kinds of ways by mankind, but it was designed to do a vital job. Engineered structures do not happen by chance. As David said " I am fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139:14).

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