Neanderthal Bone May Push Back Development of Complex Speech

Pic: Yulia S. (CC)

Pic: Yulia S. (CC)

New research seems to suggest that the Neanderthals could speak as well as modern humans.

Via BBC News:

An analysis of a Neanderthal’s fossilised hyoid bone – a horseshoe-shaped structure in the neck – suggests the species had the ability to speak.

This has been suspected since the 1989 discovery of a Neanderthal hyoid that looks just like a modern human’s.

But now computer modelling of how it works has shown this bone was also used in a very similar way.

Writing in journal Plos One, scientists say its study is “highly suggestive” of complex speech in Neanderthals.

The hyoid bone is crucial for speaking as it supports the root of the tongue. In non-human primates, it is not placed in the right position to vocalise like humans.

Read the rest of this story at BBC News.

4 Comments on "Neanderthal Bone May Push Back Development of Complex Speech"

  1. Thinking back to Asimov’s ‘The Ugly Little Boy’, the presence of things that may facilitate modern speech doesn’t necessarily mean that it was in use to the same effect as today. One of the things that struck me about the book was the implication that a Neanderthal child possessed all the necessary faculties for modern day living which was uncultivated in the time and culture he originally existed in. Therefore it’s plausible modern day humans possess faculties which would allow them to cope with conditions hundreds of years in the future, as of yet uncultivated until exposed.

    Overall I suppose I find the concept of the linear/evolutionary hierarchy / ‘human’ supremacy that the article seems to be pushing distasteful, or a gross misrepresentation taking this into consideration.

  2. InfvoCuernos | Jan 3, 2014 at 10:43 pm |

    Well, they sure couldn’t talk their way out of getting extinct.

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