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Large working model showing the middle ear, Europe, 1851-1900

The large piece of leather represents the ear drum. This vibrates and passes the sound to the bones of the middle ear, which are called ossicles. These bones also vibrate and amplify the sound to pass it on to the inner ear, which contains the cochlea. The hairs of the bones in the inner ear send a nerve impulse to the brain. Anatomical models were useful in demonstrating the anatomy of the body to medical students as they were a longer lasting alternative to decaying body parts, which were often in short supply. Seeing body parts on a larger scale, rather than life size, makes the structure easier to understand.

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Glossary: ear

The organ of hearing; the external ear

Glossary: teaching aid

A tool used by teachers, facilitators, or tutors to help learners improve reading and other skills,or to illustrate or reinforce a skill, fact, or idea. They can often combat anxiety or boredom, as many teaching aids are like games.

Glossary: anatomical model

A model that demonstrates the structure of the human body through the separation of its parts. Often used for teaching purposes.

Glossary: anatomy

A branch of medical science concerned with the structure of living organisms.