First anatomical reconstruction of the Neanderthal cartilaginous Eustachian tube (CET) indicates the tubal morphology may have predisposed them to high rates of otitis media, a common childhood ear infection. The susceptibility to ear infections may have compromised their fitness and ability to compete within their niche. This may have contributed to their rapid extinction.
Ear infections and other conditions that cause hearing loss to one ear can cause nerve damage if left untreated. The damage may render the sufferer to difficulties in speech recognition and processing.