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Rabbits form a species which is prey for several carnivores. Rabbits do not have any means to fight with their predators. Their only means of protection from them is to detect them fast, and run away from them. The long ears of rabbits help them catch sound waves in a very efficient manner. They are like the ear trumpets which were used in the past to hear sounds in a better manner.

In addition to providing an excellent means to improve their ability to detect predators, the long ears of rabbits also help to keep their body cool. This is important as the rapid speed with which they have to run to escape from predators increases the body temperature very fast and a large surface is required to eliminate the heat.

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Rabbits have long ears for two purposes. The first purpose is to detect predators. Rabbits are prey for many predators in the wild. A rabbit's ears are long not only to hear predators but also to detect the location of the sound. If one has a pet rabbit, one may notice that its ears move slightly according to the direction of a sound (like the sound of rabbit pellets in a feed dish).

Another reason rabbits have long ears is for temperature control. This is especially important in desert rabbits, as they have to adjust to greater temperature extremes. These jackrabbits are able to adjust to hot, dry conditions thanks to their long ears. Some domesticated rabbits do not use their ears so much for this purpose; a breed referred to as the English Lop Eared rabbit has ears that are not erect. Rabbits of this breed are primarily used as children's pets and show rabbits, and they are not viable in the wild.

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The simplistic answer to this question is evolutionary adaptation to their environment. The ears of rabbits serve two different purposes. First, they assist rabbits in hearing threats at different angles. In fact, a rabbit's ears can rotate 270 degrees. This helps the rabbit detect and locate threats.

The second function is to help regulate body temperature. Rabbit ears have a network blood vessels that allows heat exchange. For example, the blood vessels will contract when the rabbit is cool, and the vessel will swell up when the rabbit is warm.

From an evolutionary biology standpoint, these mechanisms developed over a course of 4,000 years, and thus physiologically changed the shape and size of modern-day rabbits. It is similar to how our ancestors—specifically Homo habilis—developed opposable thumbs in order to grip objects better. If such a need did not exist, we wouldn't have opposable thumbs today.

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