Russian Journal of Developmental Biology

, Volume 42, Issue 6, pp 412–425 | Cite as

The middle ear in the ontogenesis of mammals

Developmental Physiology


The middle ear in mammals is characterized by structural variations and a broad spectrum of adaptive transformations related to peculiarities of species ecology, but it preserves the general basic principle of structure in most mammals. In species remote from a phylogenetic point of view but close in ecologic specialization, features of parallelism are observed concerning the development of separate elements of auditory ossicles as well as the way of their interconnection and attachment to the tympanum. Along the way to the adaptation to the water lifestyle in semi-aquatic and aquatic species, new additional structures, not intrinsic to initial terrestrial forms, have been formed. The use of ecological and morphological approaches to research the peripheral division of the auditory system of mammals with different ecological specialization in the ontogenesis permitted us to reveal that peculiarities of its structure in different groups of mammals are preconditioned by the animals’ adaptation to specific acoustic properties of their environment. Morphological and functional adaptations of the peripheral auditory system aimed at optimizing auditory sensitivity in the environments differing in physical properties are of great importance in evolution. Adaptive specific features in the structure of the middle ear in aquatic species appear at early stages of development in spite of intrauterine growth without the direct influence of environmental conditions.


bulla tympanica tympanum malleus incus stapes membrana tympani cavernous plexus venous sinuses 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Blair, S.F., Perceptual Theories of Middle Ear Muscle Function, Ann. Otol. Rhinol. Laryngol., 1964, vol. 73, no. 3, p. 724.Google Scholar
  2. Boenninghaus, G., Das Ohr der Zahnwales, zugleich ein Beitrag zur Theorie der Schalleitung, Zool. Jahrb., 1903, vol. 19, pp. 189–360.Google Scholar
  3. Bondy, G., Beitrage zur vergleichenden Anatomie des Gehororgans der Sauger (Tympanicum, Membrana Shrapnelli und Chordaverlauf.), Anat. Hefte I, Abt. Wiesbaden, 1907, vol. 35, no. 106, pp. 293–408.Google Scholar
  4. Crowe, S.J., Hughson, W., and Witting, E.G., Function of the Tensor Tympani Muscles, Arch. Otolaryngol., 1931, vol. 14, p. 5.Google Scholar
  5. Denker, A., Vergleichend-Anatomische Untersuchungen uber das Gehororgen der Saugetiere nach Corrosionspraparaten und Knochenschnitten, Leipzig, 1899, pp. 1–115.Google Scholar
  6. Doran, A.H.G., Morphology of Mammalian Ossicula auditus, Trans. Linnean Soc. London, 1878, vol. 1, pp. 371–497.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dyban, A.P., Puchkov, V.F., Baranov, V.S., et al.,, Laboratory Mammals: Mouse Mus musculus, Rat Rattus norvegicus, Rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus, and Hamster Cricetus griseous, in Ob’ekty biologii razvitiya (Objects of Developmental Biology), Moscow: Nauka, 1975, pp. 505–563.Google Scholar
  8. Fleischer, G., Studien am Skelett des Gehororgans der Saugetiere, Einschliesslich des Menschen, Saugetierk. Mitt., 1973, vol. 21, nos. 2–3, pp. 131–239.Google Scholar
  9. Fraser, F.C. and Purves, P.E., Hearing in Cetaceans, Bul. Brit. Mus. Natur. Hist. Zool., 1960, vol. 7, no. 1, pp. 1–140.Google Scholar
  10. Frey, F., Vergleichend-Anatomische Studien uber die Hammer-Amboss-Verbindung der Sauger, Anat. Hefte, I. Abt., Wiesbaden, 1911, vol. 44, nos. 2–3, pp. 132–134.Google Scholar
  11. Hentzen, E., Histology Studies of the Normal Mucosa in the Middle Ear, Mastotd Cavities and Eustachian Tube, Ann. Otol. Rhtnol. Laryngol., 1970, vol. 79, no. 4, pp. 825–833.Google Scholar
  12. Hyrtl, J., Vergleichend-Anatomische Untersuchungen uber des Innere Gehororgan des Menschen an der Saugetiere, Prage, 1845, pp. 1–139.Google Scholar
  13. Hyrtl, J., Zur Vergleichenden Anatomy der Trommelhohle, Abh. Math. Naturw. Cl. Kais. Acad. Wiss. Wien, 1948, vol. 1, pp. 1–17.Google Scholar
  14. Kappers, A.C.U., Die vergleichende Anatomie des Nervensystems der Wirbeltiere und des Menschen. Haarlem, 1921, pp. 1–2.Google Scholar
  15. Kasuya, T., Systematic Consideration of Resent Toothed Whales Based on the Morphology of Tympano-Periotic Bone, Sci. Rep. Whales Res. Inst. Tokyo, 1973, vol. 25, pp. 1–103.Google Scholar
  16. Kellogg, W.H., Echo Ranging in Porpoise (Perception of Objects by Reflected Sound Is Demonstrated for the First Time in Marine Animals), Science, 1958, vol. 128, no. 3330, pp. 982–988.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Künze, W. and Kietz, H., Uber Horempfindungen in Ultraschallgebiet bei Knochenleitung, Arch. Ohren-Nasen- und Kehlkopfheilk, 1949, vol. 135, pp. 683–692.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Lipatov, N.V. and Solntseva, G.N., Some Features of the Biomechanics of the Middle Ear of Dolphins, in Tezisy dokl. V Vses. Soveshch. po izuch. morskikh mlekopitayushchikh (Proc. V All-Union Conf. on the Study of Marine Mammals). Makhachkala, 1972, part 2, pp. 140–142.Google Scholar
  19. Oelschlager, H.A., Evolutionary Morphology and Acoustics in the Dolphin Skull., Thomas, J.A. and Kastelein, R.A., Eds., New York: Plenum, Sensory Abilities of Cetaceans (Eds. Thomas, J.A. and Kastelein, R.A.). Plenum Press, N.Y. 1990, pp. 137–162.Google Scholar
  20. Pilleri, G., The Cetacea of the Italian Pliocene, Inst. of Brain Anatomy, University of Berne (Switzerland), 1987, pp. 1–160.Google Scholar
  21. Purves P.E. Anatomy and Physiology of the Outer and Middle ear in Cetaceans., Norris, K.S., Ed., Berkeley: Los Angeles Univ Calif. Press, Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises (Ed. Norris K.S., Berkeley), Los Angeles. Univ. Calif. Press. 1966, pp. 320–380.Google Scholar
  22. Ramprashad, F., Corey, S., and Ronald, K., The Harp Seal, Pagophilus groenlandicus (Erxleben, 1777). XIV. The Gross and Microscopic Structure of the Middle Ear, Can. J. Zool., 1973, vol. 51, no. 6, pp. 589–600.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Reysenbach de Haan, F.W., Hearing in Whales, Acta Otolaryngol., 1957, vol. 134, pp. 1–114.Google Scholar
  24. Simkin, G.N., Acoustic Orientation and Communication of Mammals, Extended Abstract of Doctoral (Biol.) Dissertation, Moscow, 1977.Google Scholar
  25. Solntseva, G.N., Early Development of Peripheral Part of the Auditory Analyzer in a Representative of Baleen Whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata), Dokl. Akad. Nauk SSSR, 1985à, vol. 280, no. 6, pp. 1428–1432.Google Scholar
  26. Solntseva, G.N., Early Development of Peripheral Part of Auditory Analyzer in Stenella attenuata (Odontoceti), Ontogenez, 1983, vol. 14, no. 3, pp. 312–318.Google Scholar
  27. Solntseva, G.N., The Direction of Evolutionary Transformation of the Peripheral Part of the Auditory Analyzer in Mammals with Different Ecology, Zh. Obshch. Biol., 1987, vol. 158, no. 3, pp. 403–410.Google Scholar
  28. Solntseva, G.N., Early Embryogenesis of the Peripheral Part of the Auditory Analyzer of Walrus (Odobenus rosmarus divergens), Dokl. Akad. Nauk SSSR, 1986, vol. 283, no. 4, pp. 984–988.Google Scholar
  29. Solntseva, G.N., Structural and Functional Organization of the Peripheral Auditory System of Bottlenose Dolphins (Odontoceti: Tursiops truncatus) in the Pre- and Postnatal Development, in Chernomorskaya afalina (The Black Sea Bottlenose Dolphin), Moscow: Nauka, 1997, pp. 420–441.Google Scholar
  30. Solntseva, G.N., A Comparative Morphological Analysis of the Development of the Ear in Mammals, Ontogenez, 1993, vol. 24, no. 5, pp. 62–79.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Solntseva, G.N., Comparative Morphological Analysis of the Bulla Tympanica in the Amazon River Dolphin (Inia geoffrensis) and Black Sea Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus and Delphinus delphis), Doklady Biol. Sci., 2009, vol. 425, pp. 120–124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Solntseva, G.N., Structural and Functional Organization of the Peripheral Auditory System of the Northern Fur Seal in the Pre- and Postnatal Ontogenesis, in Severnyi morskoi kotik (Northern fur seal), Moscow: Nauka, 1998, pp. 303–319.Google Scholar
  33. Solntseva, G.N., Morphological and functional Features of the Auditory Organ in Terrestrial, Semi-aquatic, and Aquatic Mammals, Zool. Zh., 1975, vol. 44, no. 10, pp. 1529–1539.Google Scholar
  34. Solntseva, G.N., Development of the Auditory Organ in Terrestrial, Semi-Aquatic, and Aquatic Mammals, J. Aquatic Mammals, 1999, vol. 25, no. 3, pp. 135–148.Google Scholar
  35. Solntseva, G.N., Morphological Adaptation of the Peripheral Region of the Acoustic Analyzer in Echolocating Cetaceae during Pre- and Postnatal Development, Dokl. Akad. Nauk SSSR, 1988a, vol. 298, no. 1, pp. 219–224.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. Solntseva, G.N., Formation of the Peripheral Auditory Analyzer in the Bearded Seal (Erignathus barbatus), a Representative of True Seals, Dokl. Akad. Nauk SSSR, 1985b, vol. 286, no. 4, pp. 1504–1508.Google Scholar
  37. Solntseva, G.N., Formation of the Peripheral Auditory Analyzer in the Ringed Seal (Pusa hispida), a Representative of True Seals, Dokl. Akad. Nauk SSSR, 1988b, vol. 302, no. 6, pp. 1489–1493.Google Scholar
  38. Tandler, J., Uber Ein Corpus Cavernosum Tympanicum Beim Seehnnd, Monatschr. Ohrenheilk, 1899, vol. 33, no. 10, pp. 437–440.Google Scholar
  39. Wassif, K., Studies on the Structure of the Auditory Ossicles and Tympanic Bone in Egyptian Insectivora, Chiroptera and Rodentia, Bull. Fac. Sci., Fouad I Univ., Cairo, 1948, vol. 27, pp. 177–213.Google Scholar
  40. Werner Cl.F. Das Gehororgan der Wirbeltiere und des Menschen, Leipzig: Georg Thieme, 1960, pp. 1–410.Google Scholar
  41. Webster, D., Auditory Significance of the Hypertrophied Mastoid Bullae in Dipodomys, Anat. Rec., 1960, pp. 136–299.Google Scholar
  42. Wilson, J.T., Observations upon Young Human Embryos, J. Anat. Physiol., 1914, vol. 48, p. 315.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. Yamada, M., Contribution to the Anatomy of the Organ of Hearing of Whales, Sci. Repts. Whales Res. Inst., 1953, vol. 8, pp. 1–79.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Pleiades Publishing, Ltd. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Severtsov Institute of Problems of Ecology and EvolutionRussian Academy of SciencesMoscowRussia

Personalised recommendations