All ears

When it comes to ears, few mammals are more advanced than the bat-eared fox. It lives in the South African bush where it scans the ground listening for a meal. It hears in the same way as all mammals do – it’s just more sensitive. Broad outer ears capture the sound waves in the air and funnel them through to the eardrum, making it vibrate. Tiny bones in the middle ear transmit and amplify these vibrations. The sound waves are then converted into nerve impulses and sent to the brain. Bat-eared foxes can hear grubs and termites moving nearly a foot below the ground. Bad news for arthropods. A mammal’s ear is a hi-tech triumph.

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