I always thought and assumed it truth that earlobes and noses continued to grow because cartilage doesn't stop growing, but I've heard it's actually due to gravity. Which one is true? Or do both contribute?
According to a common misconception, your ears keep growing because of the cartilage, which supposedly keeps growing your entire life.
In reality cartilage doesn’t keep growing in size your entire life, the real reason why our ears – and also our noses! – keep growing is the result of gravity, and a special kind of cartilage in your ears. In our body there are three different forms of cartilage; Hyaline, Elastic, and Fibrocartilage. The difference between the three types lies in the kind of protein fiber, their amount and the way it’s constructed.
Elastic cartilage and gravity are the reason why it seems our ears keep growing
The type of cartilage that can be found in our ear is the elastic variety. And as the name elastic cartilage already implies, its main component is elastic fibers – which give your ear more flexibility. As with all collagen and elastin fibers in our body, they begin to break down when we age. This is causing them to stretch and sag, making them appear longer.
As mentioned before, the actual cause of our seemingly-swelling snout is gravity. When we age, the collagen and elastin fibers that make up cartilage begin to break down. This causes them to stretch and sag, making them appear longer. Our skin giving structural support to cartilage also contains collagen and elastin fibers that droop over time. This compounds the lengthening problem.