Understanding Crocodile Ears Could Help Human Hearing

Medscape Staff

July 08, 2022

Crocodiles maintain great hearing throughout their long lives by regrowing hair cells in their ears, and researchers at Uppsala University hope that understanding this regeneration may help humans with hearing impairment.

What to know:

  • Crocodiles can live almost as long as humans and maintain good hearing throughout their lives, whereas 1.2 billion people worldwide have some sort of hearing impairment.

  • The most common cause of impaired hearing is when receptors in the ears stop working, and though these receptors cannot be regenerated in humans, they can be regrown in several nonmammalian species, including crocodiles.

  • Crocodiles have cell structures that humans lack, which appear to trigger the growth of new hair cells in their ears when old ones are damaged, although it's still unclear what the triggering mechanisms may be.

  • A distinctive characteristic of crocodile ears is that the receptors' sensitivity to different pitches is affected by external temperature, making it perfect for different kinds of dangers in different environments, including land and water.

  • It was also found that crocodile ears secrete small cell particles, which help make the hairlike cilia more sensitive to sound by making it easier for them to bend when sound vibrations reach the ear.

This is a summary of the article "Regeneration in the Auditory Organ in Cuban and African Dwarf Crocodiles (Crocodylus rhombifer and Osteolaemus tetraspis) Can We Learn From the Crocodile How to Restore Our Hearing?" published by Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology on June 8, 2022. The full article can be found on frontiersin.org.

Follow Medscape on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube


Comments on Medscape are moderated and should be professional in tone and on topic. You must declare any conflicts of interest related to your comments and responses. Please see our Commenting Guide for further information. We reserve the right to remove posts at our sole discretion.