All owners of cats saw skin folds at the base of their ear in the form of small pockets at their pets. But not everyone knows why a cat needs them.
Why does the cat have “pockets” on the ears
Scientists have still not been able to accurately determine why nature created a kind of pocket on the outer edge of the cat’s ear (at its very base). Only a few assumptions were put forward, but exact facts in favor of at least one of them were not found.
Ear pockets have scientific names: pinna and henry's pocket.
There are several theories about the use of cat ear pockets.
According to one of them, the skin fold on the ear serves as a kind of trap for sound waves, which are then more accurately redirected to the analyzer - the inner ear. That is, according to this hypothesis, the function "pocket" is equivalent to the role of the tragus of the human ear. True, opponents of the theory precisely note that the location of the "pocket" on the very edge of the ear contributes little to such a function.
The tragus plays an important role in catching sounds coming from behind, from the back, helping to determine their direction
Another more or less plausible theory is that the skin folds on the ear help the cat rotate it with a large amplitude (it reaches 180 degrees). That is, the "pockets" provide a certain margin of maneuverability in order to better determine the sound source. Moreover, if he is directly above the head of the cat, then she will be at a loss.
To the cartilage located between the inner and outer ears, the cat has 30 muscles attached (in humans - only 6), which makes it possible to twist the auricles (each separately) 180 degrees.
Even in a dream, a cat drives its ears, analyzing various sounds of the world
According to the following theory, the "pocket" plays the role of a valve, which allows you to quickly close the ear if necessary. As if under delicate folds sensitive nerve endings are hiding. As soon as they receive a signal from an external stimulus, the ear is instantly pressed against the head.
In principle, such a theory has a right to exist. As the owner of several cats at once, I immediately conducted an experiment: gently ran a finger along the “pocket” on the ear of my pets. Each of them reflexively jerked his ear, pressing it to his head. Apparently, this is a protective mechanism from penetrating deep into the ear of debris or flying insects.
Another hypothesis says that the “pockets” on the ears are vestigial gills (an organ that completely lost its functions during evolution). It is no secret that in the process of development of a mammalian embryo, gills appear, which then transform into parts of the auditory apparatus, jaw, hyoid bones, etc. (depending on the particular animal). So in cats, a certain fraction of this branchial arch is converted into a given “pocket” on the ear. The hypothesis is really interesting, but so far not confirmed by anything.
In early stages, mammalian embryos have gill sacs that are indistinguishable in structure from gill sacs in aquatic vertebrates (Fig. 4)
Regardless of the true purpose of the skin folds, they also require care, like the whole ear of the animal as a whole. Wipe them with a damp cloth, but do it very carefully and carefully, without penetrating inside the "pocket".
Such an unusual structure of the external ear, as in cats, has some other animals, for example, bats, foxes, and some dog breeds.
Photo gallery: animals with "pockets" on the ears
- Foxes, like wolves, have a well-developed hearing.
- Bats can not only move their ears at lightning speeds, but can also process overlapping echoes that arrive with a difference of only 2 million seconds
- An important difference between a dog and a person is that it controls the ear muscles very well, while for humans this is a vestige
If a person could not solve the idea of nature, this does not mean that it is meaningless. Perhaps the "pockets" on the ears of cats and some other animals perform an important function, just scientists have not yet been able to determine which one.