The three bones, or auditory ossicles, in the middle ear are the malleus (hammer), the incus (anvil), and stapes (stirrup). Tiny ligaments attach them to the wall of the tympanic cavity, and they are covered by mucous membranes. A special muscle, the stapedius, is attached to the stapes and can dampen its vibrations. These bones bridge the eardrum and the inner ear, transmitting vibrations.
The parts of the ear. (From Bear, M. F., Connors, B.W., and Parasido, M. A. Neuroscience: Exploring the Brain. 2nd Ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins, 2001.)