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This month's special issue of The Anatomical Record, “Structure and Function in the Auditory System: From Cochlea to Cortex,” is a continuation of a long tradition of insightful, often innovative, research on the ear and auditory function that has appeared within the pages of our journal. Indeed, The Anatomical Record has a robust history of creative studies by leading scientists on topics as diverse as the embryogenesis of the vertebrate ear, the anatomy underling ear function, and evolutionary changes that have affected the ear and contiguous portions of the temporal bone. For example, in the first half of the 20th century renowned anatomists and embryologists G.L. Streeter, T.H. Bast, and B.J Anson published many of their seminal observations on aspects of early ear development in The Anatomical Record. In the early decades of the century, George Streeter's innovative experiments on transplanting the ear vesicles of tadpoles (1909, 3:199; 1921, 21:114) was amongst the first to chart systematically the developmental migration and positioning of ear components. The studies by both Bast (e.g., 1928, 40:61; 1931, 48:141; 1947, 99:55) and Anson (e.g., 1929, 43:251; 1934, 58:127) focused upon human embryos, and provided the first descriptions of the ossification sequence of the otic capsule, timing of the development of the ossicles, and the appearance of the blood supply. The Anatomical Record has also been a particularly good home for those using animals as model systems to understand ear function. Notable in these areas were the work of J.C. Sandison (1924, 28:281; 1928, 40:41) at the University of Pennsylvania who pioneered methods of studying living cells and tissues in rabbit ears and extensions of this work by E.R. Clark and colleagues (1930, 47:187); experimental studies by L. Loeb and colleagues (1930, 46:55) on guinea pig ears; comparative work by H.D. Reed (1915, 9:581) on mudpuppies and their kin; and by L.T. Evans (1936, 64:187) on the cochlea in geckos. More recently in the 1990s, during my own tenure with the journal, the Swiss team of Ponce de Leon and Zollikofer (1998, 254:474) have used computerized reconstructions and micro-CT analysis to analyze the ossicles, cochlea and semicircular canals in their elegant study of the fossil Neanderthal skull from Le Moustier and bring us closer to understanding how this region may have functioned in our long-lost relatives.

This special issue carries on the century of auditory science research reported in The Anatomical Record, and takes us from descriptions of bits and pieces of underlying anatomy to the genes responsible for setting the scaffold of the ear and its connections to the brain. It proudly carries on — and advances — a noble heritage of reporting the finest science in auditory research.