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The ossicles (also called auditory ossicles) are three
bone A bone is a rigid tissue Tissue may refer to: Biology * Tissue (biology), an ensemble of similar cells that together carry out a specific function * ''Triphosa haesitata'', a species of geometer moth found in North America * ''Triphosa dubit ...

bone
s in either
middle ear The middle ear is the portion of the ear The ear is the organ of hearing and, in mammals, balance. In mammals, the ear is usually described as having three parts—the outer ear The outer ear, external ear, or auris externa is th ...

middle ear
that are among the smallest bones in the human body. They serve to transmit
sound In physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior through Spacetime, space and time, and the related entities of energy and force. ...

sound
s from the air to the fluid-filled
labyrinth In Greek mythology Greek mythology is the body of myths originally told by the Ancient Greece, ancient Greeks, and a genre of Ancient Greek folklore. These stories concern the Cosmogony, origin and Cosmology#Metaphysical cosmology, nature ...
(
cochlea The cochlea is the part of the inner ear Inner Ear (established in 2007 in Bodø, Norway) is a Norwegian record label initiated and led by the brothers and jazz musicians Tore Johansen and Roger Johansen (musician), Roger Johansen. They opened ...

cochlea
). The absence of the auditory ossicles would constitute a moderate-to-severe
hearing loss Hearing loss is a partial or total inability to hear Hearing, or auditory perception, is the ability to perceive Sound, sounds by detecting Vibration, vibrations, changes in the pressure of the surrounding medium through time, through a ...
. The term "ossicle" literally means "tiny bone". Though the term may refer to any small bone throughout the body, it typically refers to the
malleus The malleus, or hammer, is a hammer-shaped small bone or ossicle The ossicles (also called auditory ossicles) are three bone A bone is a Stiffness, rigid tissue (anatomy), tissue that constitutes part of the vertebrate skeleton in animals. ...

malleus
,
incus The ''incus'' or anvil is a bone in the middle ear. The anvil-shaped small bone is one of three ossicles in the middle ear. The ''incus'' receives vibrations from the ''malleus'', to which it is connected laterally, and transmits these to the ''s ...
, and
stapes The ''stapes'' or stirrup is a bone A bone is a Stiffness, rigid tissue (anatomy), tissue that constitutes part of the skeleton in most vertebrate animals. Bones protect the various organs of the body, produce red blood cell, red and white bl ...
(hammer, anvil, and stirrup) of the middle
ear The ear is the organ of hearing and, in mammals, balance. In mammals, the ear is usually described as having three parts—the outer ear The outer ear, external ear, or auris externa is the external part of the ear, which consists ...

ear
.


Structure

The ossicles are, in order from the eardrum to the inner ear (from superficial to deep): the
malleus The malleus, or hammer, is a hammer-shaped small bone or ossicle The ossicles (also called auditory ossicles) are three bone A bone is a Stiffness, rigid tissue (anatomy), tissue that constitutes part of the vertebrate skeleton in animals. ...

malleus
,
incus The ''incus'' or anvil is a bone in the middle ear. The anvil-shaped small bone is one of three ossicles in the middle ear. The ''incus'' receives vibrations from the ''malleus'', to which it is connected laterally, and transmits these to the ''s ...
, and
stapes The ''stapes'' or stirrup is a bone A bone is a Stiffness, rigid tissue (anatomy), tissue that constitutes part of the skeleton in most vertebrate animals. Bones protect the various organs of the body, produce red blood cell, red and white bl ...
, terms that in
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the dominant la ...

Latin
are translated as "the
hammer A hammer is a tool A tool is an object that can extend an individual's ability to modify features of the surrounding environment. Although many animals use simple tools, only human beings, whose use of stone tool A stone tool is, ...

hammer
,
anvil An anvil is a metalworking Metalworking is the process of shaping and reshaping metal A metal (from Ancient Greek, Greek μέταλλον ''métallon'', "mine, quarry, metal") is a material that, when freshly prepared, polished, or fr ...

anvil
, and
stirrup A stirrup is a light frame or ring that holds the foot of a rider, attached to the saddle The saddle is a supportive structure for a rider of an animal, fastened to an animal's back by a girth Girth may refer to: ;Mathematics * Girth ( ...

stirrup
". * The
malleus The malleus, or hammer, is a hammer-shaped small bone or ossicle The ossicles (also called auditory ossicles) are three bone A bone is a Stiffness, rigid tissue (anatomy), tissue that constitutes part of the vertebrate skeleton in animals. ...

malleus
( la, "hammer") articulates with the incus through the
incudomalleolar joint Incudomalleolar joint (more correctly called incudomallear joint) or articulatio incudomallearis is a small synovial joint A synovial joint, also known as diarthrosis, joins bones or cartilage with a fibrous joint capsule that is continuous with t ...
and is attached to the
tympanic membrane In the anatomy Anatomy (Greek ''anatomē'', 'dissection') is the branch of concerned with the study of the structure of s and their parts. Anatomy is a branch of natural science which deals with the structural organization of living thing ...

tympanic membrane
(
eardrum In the anatomy Anatomy (Greek ''anatomē'', 'dissection') is the branch of biology concerned with the study of the structure of organism In biology, an organism (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ὀργανισμός, ''organismos'') is a ...
), from which vibrational sound pressure motion is passed. * The
incus The ''incus'' or anvil is a bone in the middle ear. The anvil-shaped small bone is one of three ossicles in the middle ear. The ''incus'' receives vibrations from the ''malleus'', to which it is connected laterally, and transmits these to the ''s ...
( la, "anvil") is connected to both the other bones. * The
stapes The ''stapes'' or stirrup is a bone A bone is a Stiffness, rigid tissue (anatomy), tissue that constitutes part of the skeleton in most vertebrate animals. Bones protect the various organs of the body, produce red blood cell, red and white bl ...
( la, "stirrup") articulates with the incus through the
incudostapedial joint Incudostapedial joint is a small, synovial ball-and-socket joint The ball and socket joint (or spheroid joint) is a type of synovial joint A synovial joint, also known as diarthrosis, joins bones or cartilage with a fibrous joint capsule that ...
and is attached to the membrane of the ''
fenestra ovalis The oval window (or fenestra vestibuli) is a membrane-covered opening from the middle ear to the cochlea The cochlea is the part of the inner ear involved in hearing. It is a spiral-shaped cavity in the bony labyrinth, in humans making 2.75 turns ...
'', the elliptical or
oval window The oval window (or ''fenestra vestibuli'' or ''fenestra ovalis'') is a membrane-covered opening from the middle ear to the cochlea The cochlea is the part of the inner ear involved in hearing. It is a spiral-shaped cavity in the bony labyrinth, ...
or opening between the middle ear and the
vestibule Vestibule or Vestibulum can have the following meanings, each primarily based upon a common origin, from early 17th century French, derived from Latin ''vestibulum, -i n.'' "entrance court". Anatomy In general, vestibule is a small space or cavity ...
of the
inner ear Inner Ear (established in 2007 in Bodø, Norway) is a Norwegian record label initiated and led by the brothers and jazz musicians Tore Johansen and Roger Johansen (musician), Roger Johansen. They opened Inner Ear to release their music when their ...

inner ear
. It is the smallest bone in the body.


Development

Studies have shown that ear bones in mammal embryos are attached to the
dentary In anatomy Anatomy (Greek ''anatomē'', 'dissection') is the branch of biology concerned with the study of the structure of organism In biology, an organism (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ὀργανισμός, ''organismos'') is any ind ...

dentary
, which is part of the lower
jaw The jaw is any opposable articulated structure at the entrance of the mouth In animal anatomy Anatomy (Greek ''anatomē'', 'dissection') is the branch of biology concerned with the study of the structure of organism In biology, an ...

jaw
. These are ossified portions of
cartilage Cartilage (cartilaginous tissue) is a resilient and smooth elastic tissue Elastic fibers (or yellow fibers) are an essential component of the extracellular matrix In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living org ...

cartilage
—called
Meckel's cartilage In humans, the cartilaginous bar of the mandibular arch The pharyngeal arches, also known as visceral arches'','' are structures seen in the embryogenesis, embryonic development of vertebrates that are recognisable precursors for many structures ...
—that are attached to the jaw. As the embryo develops, the cartilage hardens to form bone. Later in development, the bone structure breaks loose from the jaw and migrates to the inner ear area. The structure is known as the middle ear, and is made up of the
stapes The ''stapes'' or stirrup is a bone A bone is a Stiffness, rigid tissue (anatomy), tissue that constitutes part of the skeleton in most vertebrate animals. Bones protect the various organs of the body, produce red blood cell, red and white bl ...
,
incus The ''incus'' or anvil is a bone in the middle ear. The anvil-shaped small bone is one of three ossicles in the middle ear. The ''incus'' receives vibrations from the ''malleus'', to which it is connected laterally, and transmits these to the ''s ...
,
malleus The malleus, or hammer, is a hammer-shaped small bone or ossicle The ossicles (also called auditory ossicles) are three bone A bone is a Stiffness, rigid tissue (anatomy), tissue that constitutes part of the vertebrate skeleton in animals. ...

malleus
, and
tympanic membrane In the anatomy Anatomy (Greek ''anatomē'', 'dissection') is the branch of concerned with the study of the structure of s and their parts. Anatomy is a branch of natural science which deals with the structural organization of living thing ...

tympanic membrane
. These correspond to the
columella Lucius Junius Moderatus Columella (; Arabic: Yunius, 4 – c. 70 AD) was a prominent writer on agriculture in the Roman empire. His ''De re rustica'' in twelve volumes has been completely preserved and forms an important source on Roman agri ...
,
quadrate Quadrate may refer to: * Quadrate bone * Quadrate (heraldry) * Quadrate lobe of liver * Quadrate tubercle of femur See also *Quadrat (disambiguation) {{disambig