What is cartilage?
If you gently bend the top of your ear, you will notice that it is much more flexible than other parts of your body. This is because your ear contains cartilage rather than the sturdy, rigid bone of other body parts such as your forearms and shins.
Cartilage is connective tissue that is found in the skeletons of humans and some animals. Unlike bones, cartilage does not contain blood vessels and nerves.
All human bones begin as cartilage, which explains why many of the bones of babies are cartilage when they are born. Over time the cartilage hardens into bone through a process called ossification. Not all cartilage is flexible. In fact, there are three types of cartilage. Hyaline cartilage can be found in the skeletons of babies, and it also remains in parts of an adult's skeleton, such as the nose. Fibrocartilage is the strong tissue that can be found in places such as the discs of the spine. Elastic cartilage is made in part of elastic fibers, so it is bendable. This is the cartilage found in the outer ear!
Animals such as sharks, skates, stingrays and lampreys do not have skeletons made of bone. Their skeletons are made entirely of cartilage!