We humans often lose hearing as we age, but crocodiles — which can also live to be old — maintain good hearing throughout their lives. how is that possible?
Hearing loss occurs in most cases because the receptors in our ears stop working. Unfortunately, these receptors do not grow back. At least: with us. This happens in some animals, such as crocodiles, which can live up to 70 years.
Crocodiles have very good hearing both above and under water. According to the researchers, this remains so throughout their lives because they have cellular structures that we do not have. The new hair cells appear to have arisen thanks to an eruption of another type of cell. They saw that these other cell types affect the protein that makes cilia grow. And this is all related to certain signals that are sent from the brain through the nerves, which probably provide the beginning of this process.
They’re not quite sure yet how the mechanism works, but they believe they’re on the trail of something that might one day help people with hearing problems.
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