Do your ears hang low?Earlobe Type & Genetics

Many people only think about earlobes when they’re deciding which earrings to wear, or when buying earrings as a gift. Generally, earlobes are either attached to the side of the head, or detached and only connected to the ear itself. You might be surprised to learn that earlobe shape is influenced by dozens of genetic factors.

How it works

Scientists don’t know why people have earlobes, but that hasn’t stopped them from trying to understand which factors impact earlobe shape.

The genetic link

Hopefully everything you learned in science class didn’t go in one ear and out the other. But when it comes to earlobe type, it might be okay if you’ve forgotten what you learned in school. That’s because it was once commonly believed that a single gene influenced earlobe shape. 23andMe researchers have looked at 34 genetic markers that influence earlobe type.

earlobe types: attached and detached

Did you know?

The fact that this seemingly simple trait is much more complex than once thought could yield insights into serious genetic conditions that affect the face. That’s why genetic researchers are crying “lend us your ears” over new findings on earlobe shape.

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All ears? 23andMe’s Health + Ancestry Service can tell you whether you’re likely to have attached or detached earlobes based on your genetics.

Health + Ancestry Service Kit

Health + Ancestry Service

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23andMe Blog, (2017, November 30). “New Research Finds Genetic Association for Detached Earlobes.” Retreived October 12, 2018, from

El Kollali R. (2009.) “Earlobe morphology: a simple classification of normal earlobes.” J Plast Reconstr Aesthet Surg. 62: 277-280.

Powell EF and Whitney DD. (1937.) “Ear lobe inheritance: an unusual three-generation photographic pedigree chart.” Journal of Heredity. 28:184-186.