Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Ear Stories.

Today I have been reading, very slowly, Charles Darwin's The Descent of Man. Close to the beginning he discusses ears. He says that a sculpter friend of his has told him that some human ears have a little point in the side as indicated. Darwin says this is left over from when our ears were pointed.


So I did a little survey.

Here is Hodmandod Minor's ear.

Ah, an adorable ear, is it not? Rather like a shell. Rather like his mother's. It was a bit of a struggle bringing this shot to you, but it was worth it because looking carefully I have to say that I can see a distinct point. Maybe it is not very obvious but it is definitely there. Hodmandod Minor is half-wolf. It explains a lot.

And here is Hodmandod Senior's ear, which, rather disappointingly, shows no indication of a point at all.

Now Hodmandod Senior's ears are actually one of his best and most interesting features. This is because he can waggle them with quite a good degree of control. He has found that this ability can be used to defuse some potentially aggravating situations.

For instance, when a student, he had a particularly irritating supervisor who liked to berate him for little alleged transgressions. Hodmandod Senior's answer, apparently, was to give his ears a bit of a waggle, and the man would stop mid-sentence, forget completely what he was saying, and just watch the ears.

When we were first married these ears used to fascinate me. Sometimes I used to ask him for ear-wagging lessons but the activity seems to require muscles I don't have. It was a disability hard to get used to at first but over the years I have learnt to cope. Although my mother-in-law was also an impressive ear-waggler it does not seem to have been passed down to the next generation, which is disappointing.

So the ability to ear-waggle is not sex-linked. I expect Darwin would have been interested in that.

9 Comments:

Anonymous Hsien Lei said...

How funny! My husband can wiggle his ears very well too and I've never been able to do it at all. Still waiting to see if our four-year-old has the same talent. :)

Thu Apr 05, 12:57:00 am  
Blogger Lee said...

This reminds me of lateral tongue-curling, which my grandmother could do, but seems not to have passed onto any of her descendents. (Welcome back.)

Thu Apr 05, 07:18:00 am  
Blogger Jan said...

I'm glad you came back.
The Percussionist will be, also.
Did you get my message re Edie Sedgwick film?
Surreal images of a certain time with Velvet Underground beating away in the background..
AND as for Ears..talents with ears ARE hereditary, I can assure you.

Thu Apr 05, 08:40:00 am  
Anonymous Maxine said...

Are you going to post a picture of your ear, Clare?
Is eyebrow-raising (one only) the same category? (Whistling?)
My daughters when younger spent ages trying to acquire these skills. Actually I am not sure whether they have done so in the case of the eyebrows, though they certainly both know how to whistle now.

Thu Apr 05, 10:01:00 pm  
Blogger marlyat2 said...

Like Lee, I thought of tongue-rolling. My daughter can do a number of strange shapes (five, I think it is), including a four-leaf clover--and she can turn the whole thing upsidedown. But none of us can rival her.

Fri Apr 06, 01:56:00 am  
Anonymous Clare said...

Now tongues are interesting and equally neglected feature, and I am very impressed with your daughter's abilities, Marly. I have just been trying out lateral tongue rolling, but I can't do it - just the longitudinal sort, which is fairly common I believe. My grandmother used to be able to touch the tip of her nose with her tongue which impressed my hugely when I was a child.

And yes, the raising of eyebrows - another fascination. I think people that can raise just one eyebrow have a unique and highly suggestive expression that the rest of us can only envy so I quite understand your daughters wanting to acquire this particular ability.

And whistling is an essential skill, isn't it? It reminds me of a few others - getting a blade of grass to make an annoying high pitched squeal between the thumbs of both hands, or clicking the fingers with both hands - I can only manage it with my left - all of these are not particularly useful skills and yet they seem to be as essential to us as speaking.

Fri Apr 06, 08:57:00 am  
Anonymous Susan said...

I second Maxine's request for a picture of your ear, Clare! I'd love to see if Hodmandod Minor combines features of each of his parents' ears.

Fri Apr 06, 06:22:00 pm  
Blogger Tammy said...

LOL Ear wagglers are new to me but I must go find my point. :)

Sat Apr 07, 07:25:00 pm  
Blogger AYDIN ÖRSTAN said...

I have that little point on the side of my ear. I remember reading Darwin's book many years ago, but I don't remember what the connection was between that point & pointed ears.

Thu Apr 19, 07:06:00 pm  

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