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Developmental fusion of the alleus and incus in a late 19th-century case of aural atresia

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historic, micro-CT, auditory ossicles

Abstract (summary)

A pathological condition, aural atresia, was discovered associated with human remains recovered from a late 19th‐century Catholic cemetery 2 km south of Battleford, Saskatchewan, Canada. Aural atresia, a congenital condition that results in a non‐existent external auditory meatus, was apparent on the right temporal bone of the remains of a young adult male. A complete osteological and contextual assessment, which included the use of a SkyScan 1172 micro‐CT scanner on the pathological incus that was recovered, indicated that the right incus and malleus had fused during early embryological development. The artifacts associated with this individual included a pocket mirror that may have represented a connection to the practice of oralism due to the discouragement of sign language by the authorities in that time period. The combination of advanced bone imaging and a complete contextual analysis suggests a differential diagnosis of nonfunctional hearing associated with the right ear, and the individual may have used a different means of communication. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Publication Information

2011 Swanston, T., Carter, Y., Hopkins, C., Walker, E. G. and Cooper, D. Developmental fusion of the malleus and incus in a late 19th-century case of aural atresia. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology. Article first published online: 15 Sep 2011, doi: 10.1002/oa.1286.


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