Creation Factsheet No. 50: Ears to Hear

Factsheet No. 50


Hearing is one of our most useful and important senses, and involves some very complex and well-designed apparatus. There are significant differences between the hearing organs of humans and our supposed reptilian and fish ancestors. Evolution cannot explain how our ears originated, and it is difficult even to imagine how they could have evolved. Many popular books on evolution, for example Dr. Richard Dawkins' Climbing Mount Improbable, don't even mention the subject.

Picture of a Human Ear


Sound waves move easily from water to body tissue, so fish don't need such complex hearing organs as land animals. Their main sensor of sound and vibration is the lateral line along the sides of their body which fans out into a system of canals in the skull. Evolutionists insist that this straight lateral line gradually evolved into the helix-shaped structure of the mammalian ear, known as the cochlea. This scenario is not based on any scientific evidence, but is assumed simply because the fish-amphibian-reptile-mammal transition is assumed.

But even greater changes are proposed. All reptiles, living and extinct, have six bones in each half of their lower jaw and one bone in the ear — the stapes. All mammals, living and extinct, have only one jaw bone, but three ear bones: the malleus, incus and stapes (or hammer, anvil, and stirrup). When sound waves travel down the ear canal, they strike the ear drum and cause these three tiny bones to vibrate. This movement creates a pressure wave in the cochlea which is transmitted to the brain as electrical signals. Evolutionists propose that during the course of evolution, bones from the reptilian jaw became detached, migrated to the ear, then attached themselves to the stapes. However, the fossil record does not record this transition. Dr. Duane Gish writes: 'Not a single intermediate between an animal with a powerful, fully functional reptilian jaw-joint and a powerful fully-functional mammalian jaw-joint has been found.'1

Diagram of the Inner Ear


Even the so-called 'mammal-like reptiles' had a reptilian jaw- and ear-bone pattern. More recent fossil discoveries have exacerbated the problem for evolution. The discovery of the fossil of Hadrocodium wui, a tiny shrewlike mammal in rocks dated at '195 million years old', has pushed back the origin of mammals by '40 million years'. Although this creature is described as primitive, it was reported that 'the creature's middle ear bones... are separated from the lower jaw, a key evolutionary difference between mammals and reptiles.'2 Since this 'early mammal' had a fully recognisable mammalian arrangement of bones in the jaw and ear, it provides no support for the theory of ear evolution. We also wonder how any transitional creature could have managed to chew and hear while bones were migrating from the jaw to the ear.


The spiral-shaped cochlea in the inner ear was discovered in 1561, but 200 years later, Italian anatomist Alfonso Corti had a closer look at the cochlea and discovered inside it a complicated structure consisting of 16,000-20,000 ultra-sensitive hair cells. He named it the Organ of Corti. This organ is essential to the hearing of all mammals, including humans, yet reptiles don't have it, so what could the Organ of Corti possibly have evolved from?

Picture Showing the Organ of Corti

Drawing by kind permission of Lisa Olsen from http://pupgg.princeton.edu/~olsen/corti.html


There is something really amazing about the human ear. The three bones of the inner ear — the malleus, incus and stapes — are finely tuned to transmit sound waves from the outer ear through the inner ear and then to the brain. The most important of these tiny bones is the stapes, which unlike the other bones in our bodies is fully developed at birth, and never changes size — it remains exactly the same size throughout our lives as when we were born! Is this just an accident, or is it part of our Creator's design?

Picture Showing the Bones of the Inner Ear

Bones of the Inner Ear


We have considered the immense differences between the hearing organs of fish, reptiles and ourselves, the total lack of fossil evidence for bones changing position, the unique mammalian Organ of Corti, and the 'miracle' of the stapes' unchanging size. We have said nothing about the complex equipment needed to convert sound waves into electrical signals, and the electrical circuitry in our brains that enables us to hear and respond to sound. One imminent morphologist, T W Torrey, commented: 'The evolutionary origin of the inner ear is entirely unknown.'3 In the light of this, we should be able to readily agree with the words of two Old Testament writers: 'Ears that hear and eyes that see — the Lord has made them both.' (Proverbs 20:12) 'Does he who implanted the ear not hear?'(Psalm 94:9)


  1. Evolution: the Fossils still say No! Institute for Creation Research (1995) p. 171.
  2. BBC Online News May 24th 2001.
  3. Morphogenesis of the Vertebrates, 1971. Quoted by Gordon Rattray Taylor in The Great Evolution Mystery, Secker and Warburg, 1983, p. 105.

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