Ear rumbling is a special ‘superpower’ that not everyone has

Those of us who can do it know exactly what it is, while it’s a mystery to those who cannot.

There are no two human beings who are exactly alike. One of the funny quirks of evolution is that some of us can do things with our bodies we think are routine but are impossible for others.

Some people can wiggle their ears, others can’t. Some can wiggle their nose like Samantha from “Bewitched” while others just look really silly when making an attempt.

Not everyone can lick their elbow but most wouldn’t attempt to do so in public.

A Twitter user named Massimo dropped some knowledge last month about a skill that not everyone has and even fewer discuss: ear rumbling.


Those of us who can do it know exactly what it is, while it’s a mystery to those who cannot.

People who can ear rumble have the ability to control the tensor tympani, a muscle within the ear. Contracting the muscle creates a rushing, rumbling sound that, if flexed enough, can drown out a significant amount of noise.

This can be useful when someone is saying something that you don’t want to hear but don’t want to be rude and cover your ears. It can come in real handy if someone is about to spoil your favorite TV show or if you live with someone who can’t stop nagging.

Some people cannot voluntarily create the rumbling sound but hear it when they let out a large yawn.

There’s a Reddit sub-forum just for ear rumblers with over 60,000 people. Here’s how some of them get rumblin’.

“I just squeeze the muscle in my ears I guess,” melvinthefish

“When I flex and hold whatever I’m manipulating to do that, I get my rumble,” ttywzl

“I get a mild rumble just doing the usual flex, but i can make it a bit louder by bringing my top lip up to my nose,” Willmono7

“The best way I can describe it is I ‘squint my ears,'” SteeleIT

Wiggling ears.
Talent Ear GIF from Giphy. | Wiggling ears.

The muscle exists to mask-low frequency sounds so we can focus on those at a higher frequency. It also works to mute sounds we create ourselves such as eating potato chips or coughing. It’s a way that helps us from becoming annoyed with our own bodies.

Unfortunately, the muscle has a rather slow reaction time so it cannot prevent us from hearing loud sudden noises like a gunshot or a book slamming on the ground.

Massimo’s tweet caused quite a stir on the platform.

Although scientists have known about ear rumbling since at least the 1800s, there doesn’t appear to have been too much research on the topic. We know that some can rumble and others cannot, but it’s unclear how it breaks down percentage-wise or if it’s more prevalent in certain groups.

The good news is that the word is starting to get out and people who’ve been rumbling all their lives suddenly don’t feel so alone.


This article originally appeared on 03.05.20

More on Good.is

Spiders Have Super-Hearing Powers And Scientists Think We …

Feast Your Eyes Ears: Forks That Make Music with Your Food – GOOD

Eleven struggles that only left-handed people understand. – GOOD

These 27 non-political questions can predict whether you’re a Republican or Democrat. – GOOD


How Has NASA Improved Solar Energy?

This view of the starboard solar array wing panel of the International Space Station (ISS) [...]

The Big Dipper’s Newest Star

Feedloader (Clickability) If you can only spot one constellation, it’s probably the Big Dipper. Other [...]

Do Dolphins Use Whistles to Call Themselves by Unique Names?

New work suggests that dolphins each have their own distinctive whistle, and respond to hearing [...]

What Happened to Silicon Valley Bank?

Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) was shut down in March 2023 by the California Department of [...]

James Webb Space Telescope data pinpoint possible aurorae on a cold brown dwarf

This artist concept portrays the brown dwarf W1935, which is located 47 light-years from Earth. [...]

Cholesterol-gobbling gut bacteria could protect against heart disease

Certain microbes in the gut microbiome may guard against heart disease by lowering people’s cholesterol. [...]

Extremely strong nano-twinned pure nickel with extremely fine twin thickness

Typical microstructure of as-deposited NT-Ni with an extremely fine twin thickness. (A) Three-dimensional structure of [...]

Trailblazing Engineer Irene Peden Broke Antarctic Barriers for Women

Irene Peden conducted groundbreaking work in Antarctica to measure the propagation of radio waves through [...]