Many depictions of merfolk show the ears as a set of ray-bearing fins, resembling the pectoral fins of fish

However, this doesn't make much sense from an anatomical perspective; the pectoral fin is not homologous to the ear, nor part of the head. It is instead a limb, complete with multiple sections and a shoulder

Could this particular member, in terms of its anatomy and development, realistically take form?

The head would be fully humanoid apart from the fins, which would be mobile and like the pectoral fins of a fish in their structure

  • $\begingroup$ Axolotl comes to mind $\endgroup$
    – Drien RPG
    Jan 6, 2022 at 21:56
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ if the fin is just cartilage and skin it is completely reasonable that is all our ears all after all. fins have evilved several times in fish. your big problem m is justifying the shape, since it will not be particularly good for sound gathering . but still better than nothing. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Jan 6, 2022 at 22:04
  • $\begingroup$ I find these implausible. It tends to happen when talented artists draw fantastic imagery without either developing expertise in biology or the other relevant sciences and their works become tropes that others end up imitating. At that point, it's often impossible for new artists to draw the fantastic being/image any other way because it will look "wrong". That said, I have no clue how external ears might develop in an aquatic humanoid species. Perhaps no external ear at all. $\endgroup$
    – John O
    Jan 7, 2022 at 20:48

2 Answers 2


Well, even if remotely, it might be possible. After all the hammerhead sharks evolved a strange head shape just to accommodate an expansion of their sophisticated sensors. In the the case of the ear what could be the small spines connected by a hydrodynamic membrane if not expanded sound sensors? Each of those spines could be tuned to pick a different frequency and transmit the vibration to the ear, but probably not in a direct manner, instead they would touch the skull close to the ear.



enter image description here

Rhino Ears can swivel about 180 degrees. It's believable that an ear could evolve to swivel in two axes at once.

  • $\begingroup$ Downvote Booooo! $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Jan 9, 2022 at 20:03
  • $\begingroup$ I'll not flag it as it's on your own post, but even if other people put a downvote without explanation you shouldn't lash out. $\endgroup$
    – Trioxidane
    Jan 27, 2022 at 14:46
  • $\begingroup$ @Trioxidane Apologies. I meant to type Boo-urns but my finger slipped. $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Jan 27, 2022 at 17:45

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