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Latin = lobulus auriculae (singular), lobuli auricularum (plural)
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earof humans and many other animals, the earlobe('lobulus auriculæ'), sometimes simply lobe or lobule) is the soft lower part of the external ear, similar in composition to the labia, or pinna. It is the lowermost portion of the human pinna, projecting below the antitragus. The earlobe is composed of tough areolar and adipose(fatty) connective tissues, lacking the firmness and elasticity of the rest of the pinna. Since the earlobe does not contain cartilagethe earlobe has a large bloodsupply and may help to warm the ears and maintain balance but generally earlobes are not considered to have any major biological function. [Popelka, Gerald, ""Re:Why do we have earlobes, what are they for, since when?" MadSci Network, posted Aug 31 1999. [http://www.madsci.org/posts/archives/aug99/934627537.Ev.r.html] ]
ize and shape
Earlobes average about 2 cm long, and elongate slightly with age. [Azaria, R., et al. "Morphometry of the Adult Earlobe: A Study of 547 Subjects and Clinical Application" (abstract), American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 2003. [http://www.plasreconsurg.com/pt/re/prs/abstract.00006534-200306000-00041.htm;jsessionid=G8KRW30rRxQ7NDCvkPfbG5pBPtnSGQV21dL30gYByLGzD531VFJp!-447275640!-949856144!8091!-1] .] Human earlobes may be "free" or "detached" (hanging free from the head) or "attached" (joined to the head). Whether the earlobe is free or attached is a classic example of a simple genetic dominance relationship; freely hanging earlobes are the dominant allele and attached earlobes are recessive. Therefore, a person whose genes contain one allele for free earlobes and one for attached lobes will display the freely hanging lobe trait. It is a common misconception that this implies a precise 3-to-1 ratio between free and attached lobes in the human population. Such a ratio would require that the allele frequency for free lobes were precisely 50%, which there is no reason to assume. One study [LY Lai, RJ Walsh, "Observations on ear lobe types." Acta Genet Stat Med, 1966] found that the frequency of attached earlobes among Japanese subjects was 67.1%, and in Chinese subjects it was 64.3%.
; however, since earlobes become more creased with age, and older people are more likely to experience heart disease than younger people, age may account for the findings linking heart attack to earlobe creases. [U.S. National Library of Medicine and National Institute of Health, "Earlobe Creases." Medical Encyclopedia, [http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003045.htm] . Updated 10/20/2004.]
The earlobe contains many
nerve endings, and for some people is an erogenous zone.
Around the world and throughout human history, the earlobe is the most common location for a
body piercing. Tearing of the earlobe from the weight of very heavy earrings, or traumatic pull of an earring, is fairly common. The repair of such a tear is usually not difficultFact|date=March 2008. Some cultures practice earlobe stretching, using piercing ornaments to stretch and enlarge the earlobes. Piercing the earlobe poses a much lower risk of infection than piercing other parts of the earFact|date=March 2008. After that time, earrings can be changed, but if the hole is left unfilled for an extended period of time, there is a chance of the piercing closing. After healing, earlobe piercings will shrink to smaller gauges in the prolonged absence of earrings, but may never completely disappear.
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