I had a single top-level layer called EAR. There were two vector paths which made it up.
Somehow, illustrator has transformed it from a normal, single top-level layer into a three-level layer structure. With two EAR layers, and then the paths separated into two layers on the third.
I have tried everything. I cannot drag the graphics onto the top-level. I cannot merge the layers. I cannot make the paths into a layer. Release to layers does nothing. It just duplicates another EAR layer. I can't move any components of the layer anywhere, or do anything that would make sense.
I want the artwork how it originally was, in one single layer. I want to merge the paths, and get rid of the container layer holding the EAR layer.
I also would like to know how to configure Illustrator so that it never does this again, this automatic creation of hierarchies.