I’m going to go ahead and say that the human race is pretty spectacular.
Of course, we have done some pretty terrible things to our planet and pretty much every living thing that resides on it. But the truth remains that we are an incredibly intelligent species with plenty of impressive inventions under our collective belt.
And while only a tiny percentage of us can actually take credit for modern inventions such as the internet, humans are, on the whole, capable of a great deal. But on a more “basic” level, I think the really amazing thing about us humans is the incredible amount of diversity that exists between us.
Some of us are born with what looks like a natural ear piercing:
It’s the kind of impressive diversity that you don’t really see in any other species. I’m talking about the colossal variation that exists in people’s skin tones, hair color, hair texture, eye shape etc.
Then there are the rarer human physical traits such as dimples or having two differently-colored eyes.
It’s these differences that remind us that although we are part of the same species, we are also our own individual entity.
But there’s an even rarer physical characteristic that a very tiny proportion of the overall population have, in fact, it’s so rare that you may not have heard of it or noticed it. About 0.1 percent of the population in the US are born with a tiny, barely noticeable hole above their ears.
It is most common in some Asian and African countries – approximately four-to-ten percent of the overall population in these parts of the world are born with this extraordinary characteristic. About 0.9 percent of people in the UK have the rare trait and in South Korea, the figure is estimated to be as high as five percent.
Now while it is a pretty rare feature of the human body, it is not reminiscent of an evolutionary relationship with some ancient, instinct creature or even proof of the existence of extraterrestrials.
Nope, people with this tiny hole above their ears, are part of a very small segment of the population who inherited a preauricular sinus.
So what exactly is a preauricular sinus? Well, it’s a congenital disorder which was first discussed on a mainstream level, in 1864, by a scientist called Van Heusinger.
The holes, which are hereditary, are formed during early fetal development.
They are formed by the first and second pharyngeal arches which are structures found in all vertebrates. In mammals, these structures go on to form the head and neck, but in fish they form part of their gills.
In humans, the holes can form anywhere around the external part of the ear and especially develop where the ear cartilage meets the face.
Usually, these holes are found on one side, but almost half of people who have a preauricular sinus on one ear have one on the other ear.
According to Business Insider, evolutionary biologist, Neil Shubin, has stated that the holes could potentially be an “evolutionary remnant of fish gills.” Of course, there is still little to no empirical evidence that this is the case, however, it certainly isn’t an unreasonable hypothesis. I mean, humans still display evolutionary remnants such as goosebumps, tailbones and appendixes.
If you do happen to have a preauricular sinus – you should know that it’s nothing to worry about as they do not tend to cause any problems.
Typically, the only issue you could have to contend with is a potential infection of the holes, however, this can be treated with relative ease, usually with antibiotics. On rare occasions, surgery is needed to remove the preauricular sinus if the infection gets out of hand.
So the next time you see someone with a tiny hole above their ear, know that this is a lot more than just a meaningless dent in their ear. It very well could be an evolutionary remnant and one that only a tiny percentage of us have inherited.