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Earlobe

Earlobe

Overview
The human earlobe is composed of tough areolar and adipose (fatty) connective tissue
Connective tissue
"Connective tissue" is a fibrous tissue. It is one of the four traditional classes of tissues . Connective Tissue is found throughout the body.In fact the whole framework of the skeleton and the different specialized connective tissues from the crown of the head to the toes determine the form of...

s, lacking the firmness and elasticity of the rest of the pinna. Since the earlobe does not contain cartilage
Cartilage
Cartilage is a flexible connective tissue found in many areas in the bodies of humans and other animals, including the joints between bones, the rib cage, the ear, the nose, the elbow, the knee, the ankle, the bronchial tubes and the intervertebral discs...

 it has a large blood
Blood
Blood is a specialized bodily fluid in animals that delivers necessary substances such as nutrients and oxygen to the cells and transports metabolic waste products away from those same cells....

 supply and may help to warm the ears and maintain balance. However earlobes are not generally considered to have any major biological function. The earlobe contains many nerve endings, and for some people is an erogenous zone
Erogenous zone
An erogenous zone is an area of the human body that has heightened sensitivity, the stimulation of which may result in the production of erotic sensations or sexual excitement.People have erogenous zones all over their bodies, but which areas are more sensitive than others vary...

.

Earlobes average about 2 cm long, and elongate slightly with age.
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Encyclopedia
The human earlobe is composed of tough areolar and adipose (fatty) connective tissue
Connective tissue
"Connective tissue" is a fibrous tissue. It is one of the four traditional classes of tissues . Connective Tissue is found throughout the body.In fact the whole framework of the skeleton and the different specialized connective tissues from the crown of the head to the toes determine the form of...

s, lacking the firmness and elasticity of the rest of the pinna. Since the earlobe does not contain cartilage
Cartilage
Cartilage is a flexible connective tissue found in many areas in the bodies of humans and other animals, including the joints between bones, the rib cage, the ear, the nose, the elbow, the knee, the ankle, the bronchial tubes and the intervertebral discs...

 it has a large blood
Blood
Blood is a specialized bodily fluid in animals that delivers necessary substances such as nutrients and oxygen to the cells and transports metabolic waste products away from those same cells....

 supply and may help to warm the ears and maintain balance. However earlobes are not generally considered to have any major biological function. The earlobe contains many nerve endings, and for some people is an erogenous zone
Erogenous zone
An erogenous zone is an area of the human body that has heightened sensitivity, the stimulation of which may result in the production of erotic sensations or sexual excitement.People have erogenous zones all over their bodies, but which areas are more sensitive than others vary...

.

Size and shape


Earlobes average about 2 cm long, and elongate slightly with age. Whether the earlobe is free or attached is a classic example of a simple genetic dominance relationship; freely hanging earlobes are the dominant allele
Allele
An allele is one of two or more forms of a gene or a genetic locus . "Allel" is an abbreviation of allelomorph. Sometimes, different alleles can result in different observable phenotypic traits, such as different pigmentation...

 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. The frequency of attached earlobes among Japanese
Japanese people
The are an ethnic group originating in the Japanese archipelago and are the predominant ethnic group of Japan. Worldwide, approximately 130 million people are of Japanese descent; of these, approximately 127 million are residents of Japan. People of Japanese ancestry who live in other countries...

 subjects is 67.1%, and in Chinese
Chinese people
The term Chinese people may refer to any of the following:*People with Han Chinese ethnicity ....

 it is 64.3%.
Earlobes are normally smooth, but occasionally exhibit creases. Creased earlobes are associated with genetic disorders, including Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome
Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome
Beckwith–Wiedemann syndrome is an overgrowth disorder usually present at birth characterized by an increased risk of childhood cancer and certain congenital features. Originally, Dr...

. Earlobe creases are also associated with an increased risk of heart attack
Myocardial infarction
Myocardial infarction or acute myocardial infarction , commonly known as a heart attack, results from the interruption of blood supply to a part of the heart, causing heart cells to die...

 and coronary heart disease
Coronary heart disease
Coronary artery disease is the end result of the accumulation of atheromatous plaques within the walls of the coronary arteries that supply the myocardium with oxygen and nutrients. It is sometimes also called coronary heart disease...

; 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. However, this correlation proved to be untrue in persons of Asian descent (Chinese and Japanese) and Native American Indians. See Frank's Sign
Frank's sign
Frank's sign or Frank sign is a diagonal ear lobe crease extending diagonally from the tragus across the lobule to the rear edge of the auricle....

.

Earlobe piercing



Around the world and throughout human history, the earlobe is the most common location for a body piercing
Body piercing
Body piercing, a form of body modification, is the practice of puncturing or cutting a part of the human body, creating an opening in which jewelry may be worn. The word piercing can refer to the act or practice of body piercing, or to an opening in the body created by this act or practice...

. It is common to tear the earlobe with the weight of very heavy earring
Earring
Common locations for piercings, other than the earlobe, include the rook, tragus, and across the helix . The simple term "ear piercing" usually refers to an earlobe piercing, whereas piercings in the upper part of the external ear are often referred to as "cartilage piercings"...

, or a traumatic pull of an earring. Some cultures practice earlobe stretching, using piercing ornaments to stretch and enlarge the earlobes. Sailors used to believe that piercing one earlobe gave greater acuity in the opposite ear.