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If You Can Wiggle Your Ears, You Have An Ancient Super Power

Miss Lori

Can you wiggle your ears without using your fingers?

It's a strange question, but if you have to ask yourself the answer is probably "no."

You either can wiggle your ears or you can't, and there's a special reason why only some of us have the gift.

What's up with wiggling?

PBS

Why can some people move their ears in the first place?

Well, you probably share your home with at least one ear-wiggler, and it should be obvious if you think about them.

Your dog or cat can move their ears, just like horses or other mammals.

It helps them hear better, and to identify where noises are coming from. That's very useful for an animal with natural predators that want to eat them.

So how come humans are left out of the wiggling club?

Ask Darwin

As humans evolved, some traits stopped being useful for us, including being able to move our ears.

Over thousands of years, the ability died out from one generation to the next. But it still lives on in some of us, because it's useless but not dangerous or deadly.

Surveys say that 10-20% of the population can still wiggle their ears, and wiggling is usually common among family members.

But even if you don't have wiggly ears, the muscles around your ears will still react to loud noises as if they can move.

But this cute feature isn't the only leftover trait from our ancestors.

Vestigial features

These leftover traits from the evolutionary process are called "vestigial," and there are a few you'll definitely recognize.

We've shared before about how getting goosebumps from emotional music reveals a lot about you.

physicsgirl / Pixabay

While this doesn't happen to everyone, we do all get goosebumps. In fact, those irritating little bumps protected our wild ancestors from predators.

As you know, when you get that tingly feeling, or feel scared, or stand outside on a cold day, your body hair literally stands on end.

This is meant to make you look bigger, a natural way to ward off predators.

It also traps warm air, helping to keep your body comfortable on cold days. That's why animals and birds look "puffy" when the weather gets cold.

Heads or tails

One of the strangest leftover body parts from our animal ancestors is the tail bone, that bony area just above your bottom that hurts when you land on it.

Today it's an important part of your bone structure, but originally it was an anchor for an actual tail.

Humans still develop tails as embryos, but they fade away before we're born... most of the time.

Rare mutations cause some children to be born with "vestigial tails" which are usually removed.

I would definitely rather be born with wiggly ears!

So do you have wiggly ears? Does anyone in your family?

[H/T: Live Science, New York Times, Vox]

I write about all sorts of things for Shared, especially weird facts, celebrity news, and viral stories.