The Ear Anatomy and Function of the Ear
The ear is part of the auditory system and is the organ that detects sound. It not only receives sound but also aids in balance and body position. There are three components to the ear: the outer ear, the middle ear and the inner ear. All three are involved in hearing but only the inner ear is responsible for balance.
In most mammals, the visible ear is a flap of tissue that is also called the pinna or the auricle. Vertebrates have a pair of ears, placed somewhat symmetrically on opposite sides of the head. This arrangement aids in the ability to localise sound sources.
The outer or the fleshy part of the ear we can see funnels sounds waves towards the ear drum, or tympanic membrane to allow it to vibrate. The pinna is also responsible for protecting the ear drum from damage.
The Middle Ear
The middle ear is an air-filled cavity located in the temporal bone of the skull, behind the ear drum and includes the three ear bones or ossicles: the malleus (or hammer), incus (or anvil), and stapes (or stirrup). The opening of the Eustachian tube is also located here. Air pressure is equalised in this space via the Eustachian tube which drains into the nasopharynx or the back of the throat and nose. Normally, the Eustachian tube is collapsed, but it gapes open both with swallowing and with positive pressure.
The Inner Ear
The inner ear has two functions the first is hearing and the second is balance consisting of the cochlea, vestibule, and semicircular canals. The cochlea is responsible for hearing. The semicircular canals have function associated with balance. The vestibule which connects the two and contains two more balance and equilibrium related structures, the saccule and utricle.