I'm trying to make a biologically accurate, human looking species. Since they can't make many sounds, they also use their ears' positions and rotation to have an advanced vocabulary. So the same sound could mean different things depending on the ears' positions. Due to their importance in communication, the ears will probably have many muscles that would make a wide range of movement possible and be quite long. My problem is that I'm not sure how that would work and can't figure out what animals I could use as a reference. I know that the ears will probably have to be on top of their heads instead of the side (though if it's possible for them to rotate and move up and down at the side let me know, I'd actually prefer them than being on top). I tried using lemurs and galagos as references, but they usually just slightly move their ears to detect sound better.

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    $\begingroup$ What about dog or cat ears? $\endgroup$
    – DKNguyen
    Commented Dec 18, 2020 at 0:12
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    $\begingroup$ So, you want to support speech with ears' gesturing. Keep in mind that making visual impression a mandatory component of speech is problematic. There are many instances when one can't see the other while having a perfect ability to hear - in low light, in another room, behind the one's back etc. $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Commented Dec 18, 2020 at 0:16
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    $\begingroup$ To piggy-back on what @Alexander just said, there is a clear evolutionary advantage to any system of communication (whether human language or squirrel vocalisations) that can be fully understood without recourse to a line of sight encounter. Communication can be achieved in the dark, in thick woodlands, in fog or heavy rain or snow, in tunnels, from treetop to treetop. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Commented Dec 18, 2020 at 1:52
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    $\begingroup$ Investigate human tonal languages. People who don't know the language assume there is a lot of ambiguity, whereas people who know the language have no problem being understood. $\endgroup$
    – NomadMaker
    Commented Dec 18, 2020 at 12:25
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    $\begingroup$ Leaving aside all the "this idea is dumb" comments, if you really want expressive ears on the side of the head, take a look at cattle. $\endgroup$
    – Matthew
    Commented Dec 18, 2020 at 13:18

1 Answer 1


More ear holes that track towards the back of the head. The fleshy folds we call ears would extend around the head. People would look something more akin to bats; whose whole faces function as a ear.

But the question is why would this trait develop? For communication. In a species where communication is highly important enough to develop a whole system of physiology to serve that function, they would probably develop multiple functions to serve that function. They would develop parts not only to send information, but to receive that information.

Humans have very fine tuned eyes, and to a lesser extent ears, to differentiate the changes in faces and changes in tone of voice necessary to tell the "meaning" in what is said by others. If ear position would become another facial trait determining the thoughts of person then again I think it would work if the whole face of person becomes more ear like. If the ears are more important in facial structure and nonverbal communication, then the whole face could become more sensitive to verbal/sonic communication.

Like I could tell where your looking, I could tell where you're listening. Also, I would be more sensitive to changes in your voice, being better able to pick up on lies or general untruthfulness.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, so I should use bat ears as a reference? These species can be about two meters tall, will I have to make them thicker than bat ears? $\endgroup$
    – Tanya
    Commented Dec 18, 2020 at 11:07

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