Sept 2017 Netdoctor and Daily Mail
Studying geriatric birds could lead to new treatments for humans with hearing problems. There would be no need for hearing aids if only humans had ears more like those of barn owls, suggests new research published in the Royal Society Proceedings B. This is because barn owls suffer no hearing loss as they age because (unlike humans) they are able to regenerate cells in their inner ears. Owls use this sensitivity to help them locate prey. While other birds experience minimal hearing loss when they get older, new research has revealed that barn owls suffer no hearing loss at all. Humans, on the other hand, will have lost more than 30 decibels of sensitivity to high-sound frequencies by the age of 65.
Georg Klump of the University of Oldenburg, Germany, a researcher on the study, said "Birds can repair their ears like (humans) can repair a wound. Humans cannot re-grow the sensory cells of the ears but birds can do this.” Further research into understanding how hearing is preserved in barn owls could lead to new treatment options for deaf humans, the experts said. Dr Ulrike Langemann, of the University of Oldenburg in Germany, said: 'Barn owls have ageless ears - evolution has favoured birds to benefit from regeneration in the inner ear that is absent in mammals.