The ear is the organ that detects sound. it not only receives sound, but also aids in balance and body position. the ear is part of the auditory system. often the entire organ is considered the ear, though it may also be considered just the visible portion. in most mammals, the visible ear is a flap of tissue that is also called the pinna (or auricle in humans) and is the first of many steps in hearing. vertebrates have a pair of ears placed somewhat symmetrically on opposite sides of the head.