The mammalian middle ear represents one of the most fundamental features defining this class of vertebrates. However, the origin and the developmental process of the incus in the human remains controversial. The present study seeks to demonstrate all the steps of development and integration of the incus within the middle ear. We examined histological sections of 55 human embryos and fetuses at 6 to 13 weeks of development. At 6 weeks of development (16 Carnegie Stage), the incus anlage was found at the cranial end of the first pharyngeal arch. At this stage, each of the three anlagen of the ossicles in the middle ear were independent in different locations. At Carnegie Stage 17 a homogeneous interzone clearly defined the incus and malleus anlagen. The cranial end of the incus was located very close to the otic capsule. At 7 and 8 weeks was characterized by the short limb of the incus connecting with the otic capsule. At 9 weeks was characterized by an initial disconnection of the incus from the otic capsule. At 13 weeks, a cavity appeared between the otic capsule and incus. Our results provide significant evidence that the human incus developed from the first pharyngeal arch but independently from Meckel's cartilage. Also, during development, the incus was connected with the otic capsule, and then it was detached definitively. The development of the incus in humans provides evidence that this ossicle is homologous to the quadrate. Anat Rec, 2018.
- auditory ossicles
- human embryology
- middle ear
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics