The human body is an incredibly complex and intricate system, one that still baffles doctors and researchers on a regular basis despite thousands of years of medical knowledge. Therefore, it shouldn’t be any surprise that even body parts and functions we deal with every day have bizarre or unexpected facts and explanations behind them.
Our sense of hearing, for example, is one of the most unique senses that we use during our day to day lives. But how much do you know about your ears really?
If you have noticed, some people are born with tiny, barely visible holes above their ears. No, they are not old, forgotten piercings. In Ethiopia, locals believe these holes bring luck and wealth to their owners. Scientifically speaking, the holes are hereditary birth defects which appear during early fetal development called preauricular sinuses. Simply put, they can be passed down from parents to their children.
Usually, the malformations are found on one side, but up to 50% of people have them on both. They are nodules, dents, or dimples that are exposed anywhere around the external ear, specifically where the face and the ear cartilage meet.
The chances of a person being born with a preauricular sinus dimple vary across geographical and ethnic lines. Researchers in Korea found that the small dents are most common among Asian and African populations, where between 4-10% of people may have them. In comparison, less than 1% of Americans and those born in the UK are affected, which is far fewer.
If you are one of those who has it, there’s not anything to worry about. They might be linked to other things, but don’t tend to cause problems. The most likely issue is for the holes to become infected, something that’s easily treated with antibiotics. Some may also form cysts, and in rare cases, draining or removal is the best option.
The cause is still unknown up to the present, but according to Business Insider, evolutionary biologist Neil Shubin stated that the tiny holes could be an “evolutionary remnant of fish gills” – a throwback to when our ancestors were first coming out of the water.
There you have it. Although they are generally harmless, preauricular sinuses are not pre-made piercings so you definitely should not put earrings in one.