Biology KS3/4: Evolution of hearing

Professor Brian Cox explains the evolution of the mammalian ear bones, the malleus, incus and stapes.

He uses a flip-book animation to show how the jaw bones of basal reptiles migrated back into the skull to form the tiny bones of the middle ear.

This clip is from the series Wonders of Life.

Teacher Notes

This clip could be used to show how the three smallest bones in the body work to help us to hear. Could be used in association with a larger ear model where the students can see the use of these bones in the mechanism of hearing.

They could work in a group to act out how the sound waves enter into the ear and how the ear in turn interprets these waves into sound signals the brain uses.

This clip could be used to exemplify how species have evolved over the period of a number of years. For example, the flipchart used in the clip shows how scientists believe the three bones in the ear evolved.

However, this can also be used to show how we can use this information to trace back family ancestry, using this in conjunction with the fossil evidence such as those for horses for example.

Curriculum Notes

This clip will be relevant for teaching Biology at KS3 and KS4/GCSE in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and SQA National 3/4/5 in Scotland.

More from Wonders of Life:

Bacteria and the development of an oxygen rich atmosphere
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Conservation of energy
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How has life on Earth become so varied?
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Lemurs: Evolution and adaptation
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Jellyfish and photosynthesis
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The arrival of water on Earth
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The origins of life on Earth
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Evolution of sight
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Evolution of the senses
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Gravity, size and mass
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Size and heat
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