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Indian Journal of Forensic Medicine & Toxicology

Age dependent changes in lobules of human ear and its influence on individual identification

Author(s): Anu Sharma, AjayKumar, Singh Poonam

Vol. 2, No. 2 (2008-07 - 2008-12)

Anu Sharma٭, AjayKumar٭٭, Singh Poonam٭٭٭

٭Associate Professor, ٭٭ Associate Professor, ٭٭٭Professor & Head, Department of Anatomy, Dayanand Medical College & Hospital, Ludhiana, Punjab, India.


A morphometery of 160 ear lobules of 80 individuals of age ranging from 1-20 years was done to work out growth related change in northwest Indian population. The study was aimed to obtain average values and range of measurements of several parameters of ear lobule and the difference between right and left lobules in growing age groups. Various measurements of lobule were taken with measuring tape and vernier calipers. Various age group divided into four categories as A, B, C and D representing population of 1- 5 years, 6-10 years, 11-15 years and 16-20 years respectively.40 ears of 20 subjects from each of the age category were chosen. Only male subjects were taken. The female subjects were excluded due to ear piercing. The results of measurements like length, breadth and thickness were tabulated and analyzed using t-test. All the measurement showed increasing order trend in increasing age groups. The growth pattern of length of ear lobules shows significance change from group A to B and from group C to D on both right and left side. The Breadth and thickness show almost similar pattern in increase in growth in all the age groups on both right and left side. Our measurements of ear lobule length showed lesser value as compared to Caucasian and Japanese populations. The square type of ear lobule was seen in all the subjects except one. The study among onge tribe of Andhra (India) and newas of Nepal also determined square type as predominant type of ear lobule in the region. The shape of ear lobule was found to be bilaterally symmetrical in all cases.

Keywords: Ear lobule,pinna, morphometry of ear lobule, square ear lobule, pendulous ear lobule


Adults with a mature face show relatively well described features. The changes taking place in the morphology of face from infancy onwards cause difficulties in identification. In an infants face obvious changes occur due to quick growth with in first year. The ear is the last part of the auricle to develop1. The lobule is absent or rudimentary in anthropoids and best developed in civilized races.

The ear lobule morphometery gives information on age and sex and play a valuable role in forensic investigation. Initially ear lobule parameters were studied for the surgical treatments of congenital deformities and reconstruction2,3. The ear lobules are also used in otomorphology for identification Age dependent changes in lobules of human ear & its influence on individual identification through photographs or ear prints. It is of significance in forensic medicine and criminology4.

The ear lobule crease points to an area on the pinna corresponding to heart in acupuncture map. An interesting association between the diagonal ear lobe crease & myocardial infarction risk is also hypothesized5.

In the present study parameters of length, breadth and thickness of ear lobule were taken. The types of ear classified as tapering, square and pendulous6, were also recorded in different subjects. An effort was done to see gross changes in ear lobule dimensions with age in Northwest Indian male subjects.

Material and methods

The study was conducted in the Department of Anatomy, Dayanand Medical College and Hospital, Ludhiana, Punjab, India. Eighty subjects having similar sex distribution were selected. Consent was taken from the guardians wherever it was necessary. The clinical examination done and detailed history was taken to exclude any other congenital or other diseases of external ear. Thus local abnormalities of pinna were ruled out. The cases with the history of mental retardation, piercing of ear lobule and with disfigured ear were not taken into account. In 80 subjects with 160 healthy ear lobules morphometery was done. The subjects were distributed in four groups as A- 1-5 years, B- 6-10 years, C- 11-15 years, D- 16-20 years. Both right and left ear lobules were studied. The parameters of the ear lobule observed were:

  1. Presence/ absence
  2. Shape
    1. Tapering Intermediate
    2. Square Attached (fig.2)
    3. Pendulous Free
    # Breadth: Maximum breadth anteroposteriorly (fig.1) # Thickness: At its midpoint # Length: Vertical line from the intertragus incisura to the caudal tip of ear lobule.(fig.1)

All the results were tabulated. Their mean values, standard deviation and standard error of mean were calculated. The values were compared for significant changes in lobule with respect to age and side.

Fig 1
Fig 1
Fig 2
Fig 2

Table 1: Comparison of length of ear lobules in cms in different age groups. (R- right side, L-left side, STDEV-Standard deviation,S.E.M.-Standard error of mean A,B,C&D are various age groups)

  A B C D
VALUES R (A) L (A) R (B) L (B) R(C) L(C) R (D) L (D)
Mean 1.305 1.260 1.515 1.480 1.570 1.545 1.850 1.875
STDEV 0.206 0.170 0.276 0.242 0.333 0.274 0.237 0.240
S.E.M. 0.292 0.282 0.339 0.331 0.351 0.345 0.414 0.419

Table 2: Comparison of breadth of ear lobules in cms in different age groups. (R- right side, L-left side, STDEV-Standard deviation,S.E.M.-Standard error of mean A,B,C&D are various age groups)

  A B C D
VALUES R (A) L (A) R (B) L (B) R(C) L(C) R (D) L (D)
Mean 1.835 1.975 1.930 1.810 2.115 2.02 2.200 2.225
STDEV 0.296 0.229 0.277 0.215 0.356 0.26 0.213 0.238
S.E.M. 0.410 0.442 0.432 0.405 0.473 0.452 0.492 0.498

Table 3: Comparison of thickness of ear lobules in cms in different age groups (R- right side, L-left side, STDEV-Standard deviation,S.E.M.-Standard error of mean A,B,C&D are various age groups)

  A B C D
VALUES R (A) L (A) R (B) L (B) R(C) L(C) R (D) L (D)
Mean 0.275 0.292 0.297 0.301 0.304 0.316 0.336 0.342
STDEV 0.018 0.019 0.012 0.011 0.016 0.015 0.012 0.015
S.E.M. 0.061 0.065 0.066 0.067 0.068 0.071 0.075 0.076


Table 1 shows the mean value of length, sample’ standard deviation and standard error of mean of ear lobules on right and left side age wise. The table can also be used for comparison of this parameter in different age groups. The average length of right side increased from 1.31±.29cm to 1.85±.41cm. On the left side the values increased from 1.26±.28cm to 1.88±.42 cm

The mean value of breadth of ear lobule ranged between 1.84±.41cm to 2.2±.49cm the right side and 1.98±.44 cm to 2.22±.49 cm on the left side in Table 2.The standard error of mean and standard deviation calculated for different age groups were also tabulated in the same table.

The range of thickness of ear varies as. 27±.06cm to .33±.075 cm on the right sided ear lobules. The left sided ear lobules of different age groups’ show range. 29±.065 cm to. 34±.076 cm as shown in Table 3.

A very small increase in the thickness of ear lobule was noted with increasing age. Maximum changes in the length of ear lobule noted between age groups A-B and C-D. The breadth showed almost similar proportion of change in measurement in all age groups.

Various shapes of ear lobules were noted. The square type (fig.2) was noted in all the cases except one where it was pendulous. The shape of ear lobule was found to be bilaterally symmetrical in all cases.


The face forming characteristics are to certain degree age dependent and therefore some are extremely changeable. Identification can, but must not be totally dependent on this fact. Some or even a lot of individually dependent characteristics may remain from early childhood to adolescence. It is necessary to search for them to identify them and their variation.

The current study is an effort to interpret one of the most important structure of the face that could be compared throughout childhood i.e ear lobule. The purpose of present study was to establish ear lobules parameter with special reference to its bilateral symmetry. A few studies have been conducted to measure lobule length and width. There are also few authors7,8 who have worked to make data pool for the type of ear lobule. According to these studies, the lobule is most developed in European and Mongoloid subjects. Black subjects have a small, rounded ear with little or no lobule. The ear is relatively shorter and broader in infancy and during maturity than later in life9. The morphological characteristics and dimension vary in different races. The sex and age is main feature which influence ear lobule length10. In a study on Caucasian, African, Asian and Indian subjects the average length of lobule was found to be 1.9 cm range (1.3-2.5 cm)11. In our study the length of the ear lobule is less than 1.9cm on both the sides even in group ‘D’.

It is documented that the length and breadth decrease with age advancement12. In our study length and breadth both increase with age. Probably the reason for this difference is, our study is dealing with the growing age groups. The parameters used in the present study for ear lobules in human ear give information on age and sex of a person and play a valuable role in forensic investigation. These parameters may influence individual identification from infancy to sub adults (14-16 years) to adult (20 years) age groups


  1. Standering S,Berkovitz BKB,Hackney CM (2005) Devopment of ear.In: Gray’s Anatomy. Anatomical Basis of Clinical Practice,39th edn (Standering S,Ellis H,Healy JC,Johanson D,Williams A,eds).Elsevier Churchill Livingstone,London,680.
  2. Tolieth H (1978), Artistic anatomy, dimension and proportions of external ear. Clin Plast Surg 5, 337-345.
  3. Avelar j (1986) Importance of ear reconstruction for the aesthetic balance of facial contour. Aesithetic Plast Surg 10, 147-156.
  4. Fenestra L, Van der Lugt C (2000) Ear witness. J Laryngol Otol 114,497-500.
  5. Kenny d (1989) Creased ear lobes. Lancet 2 (8670), 1037.
  6. Ishikawa T, Ohura T, Nozaki T (1985) The formal classification of ear lobes and difference by age among resident of Hokkaido. Jpn J Plast Reconstr Surg 5, 539.
  7. Bhasin MK (1969) Ear lobe attachment among the Newars of Nepal. Hum Hered 19, 506-508.
  8. Pal A (1970) Ear lobe attachment of the onge. Hum Hered 20, 650-653.
  9. Hoolon E A (1965) Up From the Ape. Motilal Banarasidass publication, Delhi.
  10. Azaria R, Adler N, Silfen R, Regev D, Hauden DJ (2003) Morphometery of the adult human ear lobe: A study of 547 subjects and clinical application. Plast Reconstr Surg 3, 2398-2402.
  11. Mckinney P, Giese S, Placik O (1993) Management of the ear in rhytidectomy. Plast Reconstr Surg 92, 858-866.
  12. Bruker MJ, Patel J, Sullivan PK (2003) Morphometeric study of the external ear. Age and sex related differences. Plast Reconstr Surg 112, 647-652.

Corresponding address:
Dr Anu Sharma

Associate Professor,
Department of Anatomy,
Dayanand Medical College & Hospital,
Ludhiana, Punjab 141 001
e-mail: anuashwani2003 (at),
Mobile: 9872202147

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