Otic Notch

A. lateral view of temno skull showing otic notch                    B. Parotosuchus skull showing the otic notch at the distal end

Figure A shows the skull of a Palaeogyrinus. The illustration clearly shows an area at the back of the skull that looks like a large chunk has been taken out. This is the Otic Notch.

Figure B shows the skull of a Parotosuchus. On the left hand side of the skull toward the back you can see two holes. These are the otic notches, however in this species they are almost closed off.

In some specimens scientists have found a stapes, the same bone found in our own ear. Some experts suggest that the Otic notch had a tympanum (similar to our ear drum) stretched across it. However others disagree and show that the stapes bones found in the fossil were too thick and robust in early temnospondyls to be of any use for hearing. Whether or not it appeared in later temnopondyls is not certain. While it is accepted that the ear probably did arise from strucutres similar to these, temnospondyls probably did not have ears per se.

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