Were Neanderthals able to speak words like humans?


by oTschOo

Neanderthals are a kind of human genus that appeared about 400,000 years ago and are believed to be extinct tens of thousands of years ago. It is said that homo-Sapiens and Neanderthals, who are human ancestors, are mated and sometimes painted cave paintings, but the question 'Can Neanderthals speak language?' Archaeologist Anna Goldfield of Boston University looks at it.

Did Neanderthals Speak? The Neanderthal Throat-SAPIENS
https://www.sapiens.org/column/field-trips/did-neanderthals-speak/

Language is a very important tool for human beings, and by communicating information in words between individuals and groups, we were able to greatly develop technology and culture. Among archaeologists, the point of the question, 'Can Neanderthals near modern humans also speak language?' Has often been the subject of controversy since the 19th century. It seems that in 1866 the Paris Linguistics Association banned debates on the origin of language, as too many scholars would like to make an opinion on 'the origin of language', including the language of Neanderthals.

Under such circumstances, Goldfield pointed out that 'at least animals must have the correct anatomical function to speak a language,' and in the study from an anatomical point of view, the Neanderthals He said that he could think of whether he could have made such sounds.

Some vertebrates, including humans, have vocal cords that are made up of adrenal glands and muscles in the throat, and humans also vocalize using vocal cords. When the human opens the mouth to make a voice, air is pumped from the lungs to the throat, and the air reaches the vocal cords. When the vocal cords vibrate, the air also vibrates at a constant frequency, and when the vibrating air rushes out into a large space, it becomes voice.


Many of the apes is also a path of voice vocal tract has the vocal cords in, but the apes will not exist organ that laryngeal sac in the opening of the vocal tract. The laryngeal sac is a large-expanded organ of the bronchus, and its purpose is to make the vocalization more loud and to support the muscles of the neck, but it seems that researchers have not elucidated a clear role. Due to the presence of this laryngeal sac, many apes can not utter voices with a single distinct frequency, like the language spoken by humans.

It is unclear as to whether or not Neanderthals had laryngeal sacs, as soft tissues have not remained until now. However, Goldfield focused on the U-shaped bone called the hyoid bone associated with the vocal tract. The hyoid bone is not connected to other bones of the human body, but it has the role of fixing the aortic band and muscles of the throat and supporting the tongue base, and it seems to be an important bone when eating and drinking food. is.

The hyoid bone is so small and fragile that it does not remain as a fossil until later times, but fortunately in the case of the Neanderthal, one perfect hyoid bone remains from the fossil of an individual named ' Kebara 1 ' And that. Sandra Martelli, an anatomical researcher at University College London, used a computer model to attempt to restore the Neanderthal vocal tract.

Martelli performed a CT scan of the human head, including the hyoid bone, and mapped it to the Neanderthal skull to investigate where the hyoid bone of Kebara 1 is located. As a result, it turned out that the hyoid bones of Neanderthals are likely to be located slightly forward than modern humans, and found that they do not have the laryngeal sac like other apes. about.

by Neil Howard

Martelli, meanwhile, states that 'The throat of Neanderthals is much larger than humans,' and Neanderthals, who have a large space for sound echo, can not pronounce vowels as clearly as modern humans. I believe that. In conclusion, Goldfield said that although Neanderthals could have spoken as well as humans, they would have been unfamiliar to modern humans.

in Science,   Creature, Posted by log1h_ik