There have been written many articles and researches regarding camel nostrils, camel’s sleep, camel current endangered status, and many other things regarding this mammal. But when it comes to camel ears, there haven’t been too many.
In this article, we will try to cover that topic.
Do Camels Have Ears?
Yes, camels have a pair of ears on their head.
But what do those ears look like? Does a camel have small ears? And are those ears covered in fur? And how well does a camel hear?
Read on to find out.
Do Camels Have Good Hearing?
Many people believe that our ears do the hearing. That is actually not the case.
Our ears, i.e. our external ears (pinnae) and our ear canal only direct sound waves to our eardrums, which later send that signal to the brain for processing. This is how we hear.
This is also the case with all animals, including camels. Camel’s pinnae act like a funnel: it collects, amplifies, and sends sound waves to the internal parts of the ear, the eardrums.
The eardrums transform those waves into nerve signals for the brain to interpret. And this entire process allows the camel to hear.
And camels hear well. They actually have a very good sense of hearing.
According to an article on camel external and middle ear, the ear-canal resonance peak of Camelus Bactrianus (the Bactrian camel) was at 1.3 kHz.
What Kind Of External Ear Does A Camel Have?
According to a study of the ear muscles of the camel, the external ear of a camel includes:
- the pinnae (previously mentioned)
- three cartrilages
- four sets of muscle
- the tympanic membrane
One part of the ear, the external meatus (the passage leading into the ear), consists of two parts, the cartilaginous and the osseous parts.
What Does A Camel Ear Look Like?
We already mentioned that a camel’s ears can be seen on the animal’s head.
In comparison to the head, the ear is smaller, usually being 4 inches long and 3 inches wide (10cm and 7cm).
Bactrian camels have slightly longer ears, slightly under 6 inches (15cm) compared to Wild Bactrians, whose are 4 inches long (10cm).
When it comes to the ear shape, some camels have more rounded ears, while others have pointier ones.
For example, a study from 2019, compared ears between different breeds of Dromedary camels from the Arabian Peninsula.
One breed, the Majaheem camels, have long, pointy ears, while other breeds, the Malaween, had shorter, more folded ears that are tilted sideways and to the back.
Read More: List Of Animals With Pointy Ears
Note to camel buyers: when picking a camel to get, usually the pedigree she-camel should have sharp-pointed ears.
The ears also have thick fur and are flexible. Each ear can, independently of the other, move in a different direction.
When a camel hears a sound coming from the front of the animal, the ears move forward. Usually, that means that the camel is alerted.
When there’s a sound coming from behind, the ears are oriented to the back.
When the camel is unsure of the direction from which the sound came, it will move one ear back and the other to the front, to locate where the sound came from.
The muscles that allow the camel to move its ears can be classified into four groups: rostral, dorsal, ventral, and caudal.
Animals that are prey usually have such movable ears. It allows them to better pick a sound of a possible predator approaching.
There is a community called Raika Pastoralists, living in Rajasthan, believing that camels can sense evil. They say that when a camel senses something corrupt in the distance, they will erect their small hairy ears and won’t move forward.
Why Do Camels Have Small Ears?
There are a couple of reasons why camels have small ears.
The smaller size could be a sign of camel ear adaptation to different factors in its environment.
For example, deserts can be extremely hot during the day; but during the night, temperatures can go under -3.9°C (about 25°F).
Smaller ears would limit the amount of skin that is exposed to that cold weather, ultimately helping the camel with heat loss.
In addition to that, camels today live in environments where there are lots of winds and particles flying around (just imagine the amount during a sandstorm). Having large ears in such a case would not be too beneficial for the animal.
Smaller ears have a smaller surface and a smaller hole for the dust to cross through. Them being tiny and compact is actually better for preventing dust from getting inside.
So, retaining heat during freezing desert nights, preventing dust from getting into ears, maybe even helping the animal hide from the predators are the main reasons camels have small ears.
Why Do Camels Have Hair In Their Ears?
Camels are animals that are characterized by pilosity. Simply said, they are hairy animals, covered in fur.
And having fur on other parts of the animal’s body is easy to understand, but why on earth do camels have hair inside their ears?!
It turns out, the answer is rather simple.
Camels live in environments with dust flying everywhere. Smaller ears, in addition to having fur on them, even on the inside, would prevent sand or dust from getting into the animal’s ears. Also, having fur inside the ears would be beneficial for the animal during cold desert nights, as it would be an additional way to preserve heat.
Even in the animal kingdom, bigger is not always better.
Camels have evolved a good sense of hearing, even with their small ears.
And according to zoologists, camels love having their ears rubbed, and will actually push one another out of the way to get their ears nourished.
Those ears, usually 4 by 3 inches big, are flexible to move independently in different directions and have hair on, as well as, inside of them.
As it is a case with flexible nostrils of a camel that can open and close, this type of ear prevents dust from getting inside the animal, and help with better heat retention.
Just another amazing camel adaptation to living in challenging environments you could say.