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Ear Bones | Bones of the Ear

The Ear Bones

Specifically the middle ear, consists of 3 bones known as ossicles. Since the human body has 2 ears, there are a total of 6 middle ear bones.

The middle ear is located behind the ear drum and in front of the cochlea and oval window.

These bones function in transmitting sound waves to the inner ear.

  • The ossicles convert compression sound waves into fluid membrane waves.
  • Interestingly, ossicles are the three smallest bones in the body.

Below are detailed diagrams of the middle ear bones and information regarding the bones of the ear. Learn the names of the ear bones and ear anatomy.

Ear bones

List of all Middle Ear Bones


  • malleus (2)
  • incus (2)
  • stapes (2)


Malleus Bone

Click to Enlarge. A. From behind. B. From within.

The malleus, also known as the “hammer,” is one of the three bones that make up the inner or middle ear.

  • It is the first bone of the middle ear and is closest to the ear drum and outer ear.
  • The malleus is shaped like a hammer and this ossicle connects to the eardrum (outward side) and to the incus (inward side).
  • Interestingly, the word malleus is latin for hammer.
  • The primary function of the malleus is the transmission of sound waves or vibrations from the eardrum to the incus.

Eventually this sound wave will reach the cochlea where it will be interpreted by the brain. The malleus bone is unique to mammals and evolved to allow for hearing.


Incus Bone

Click to Enlarge. A. From within. B. From the front.

  • The incus is the second bone of the three bones that make up the inner ear.
  • This anvil-shaped bone is located in between the malleus and the stapes and connects to the malleus on the outward side and the stapes on the inward side.
  • Like the malleus, the primary function of the incus is the transmission of sound waves or vibrations.
  • The incus transmits vibrations from the malleus to the stapes.

Eventually these vibrations/sound waves will reach the cochlea where they will be interpreted by the brain.

The incus is unique to the mammals.


Stapes Bone

Click to Enlarge. A. Left stapes. B. Base of stapes, medial surface.

  • The stapes is the third and final bone of the middle ear.
  • This stirrup-shaped bone / ossicle is the smallest and lightest bone of the human body.
  • The stapes connects to the incus on the outward side and to the oval window on the inward side.
  • The primary function of the stapes is transmitting sound waves from the incus to the membrane of the inner ear.
  • Eventually this sound vibration will be interpreted by the brain.
  • The stapes is connected to and stablized by the stapedius muscle.

Unlike the malleus and incus bones, bones similar to the stapes can be found in non-mammals.

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Test Your Knowledge

How Many Bones in the Human Body?

An adult has a total of 206 bones in their skeleton

How many Bones in a Child's Body?

A newborn baby has 270 bones in the skeletal system. Most of their skeleton is made up of cartilage which forms bone as it hardens over time. The bones in a child's skeleton fuse together as they grow, reducing the number, up until about 25 years old.

What is The Strongest Bone in the Human Body?

The femur or thigh bone is the strongest bone in the body. It is situated between the pelvis and the knee. It is also the longest bone in the body and is fully one quarter of your bodies' height.

What is the Weakest Bone in The Body?

The weakest bones in your body are the tiny bones inside your ear that enable you to hear. On the other hand; the most commonly fractured bone is the clavicle.

What is the Hardest Bone in the Body?

The hardest bone in the body is the petrous portion of the temporal bone. The temporal bones are found at the sides and base of the skull and the petrous portion is specifically the part at the base of the skull that contains the organs for hearing.

Where are the Smallest bones in Your Body Located?

The smallest bone in the body is called the stapes. It is a stirrup shaped bone found inside the ear drum that transmits vibrations enabling us to hear.

How many Bones are in the Leg?

A human leg contains 30 bones. There are 26 bones that make up the foot, and the four major bones of the leg, which are the thigh bone (femur), the shin bone (tibia), the calf bone (fibula) and the knee cap (patella)