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Ear-flaps concentrate sound waves: mammals


Red fox / Malene Thyss.. / LicenseGFDL - Gnu Free Document License

The external ear-flaps of many mammals aid hearing by concentrating sound waves.

"It is only among mammals that ears become noticeable, even striking, because of the visible external ear-flaps behind the narrow opening of the outer ear tube…The most obvious use of the ear-flap, though not necessarily the most important, is to gather and concentrate sound waves." (Foy and Oxford Scientific Films 1982:167)
About the inspiring organism

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Organism/taxonomy data provided by:
Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life: 2008 Annual Checklist

Bioinspired products and application ideas

Application Ideas: Muting or distributing sound waves from freeways, construction projects, etc. Amplification of waves to increase sensitivity for sensing.

Industrial Sector(s) interested in this strategy: Noise management, sensing

Foy S; Oxford Scientific Films. 1982. The Grand Design: Form and Colour in Animals. Lingfield, Surrey, U.K.: BLA Publishing Limited for J.M.Dent & Sons Ltd, Aldine House, London. 238 p.
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over 6 years ago
In answer to your question, sometimes you can look for inspiration by asking not only how nature does something, but how does it do the opposite. For example, how does nature contain water is one approach, but also looking at how nature keeps water out can give more ideas for waterproofing something. The same could apply for the ear flap example. The shape of the ear flap concentrates sound waves, so perhaps we could learn how to change the shape to do the opposite.
over 6 years ago
I was wondering how ear-flaps could "mute sound waves" as mentioned in the biomimetic application ideas. Could one give a short explanation, or perhaps organisms which do this very thing themselves? Really curious about that.
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