Cartilage is the substance in your external ear that gives it shape but allows flexibility. Cartilage also provides a smooth surface for articulation of your joints. The cells that make cartilage are called chondrocytes. In this image, a chondrocyte is shown at very high magnification (the image was taken on a transmission electron microscope). Surrounding the cell are numerous fiber-like structures. These collagen fibers, which are secreted by the chondrocytes, make up the majority of the cartilage matrix and bestow visco-elastic properties on this matrix. The cells secrete so much of this matrix that they actually entrap themselves in it.
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