Re: Neandertal language

Ralph L Holloway (rlh2@COLUMBIA.EDU)
Fri, 23 Feb 1996 10:47:22 -0500

On Thu, 22 Feb 1996, Jeromy J. Hill wrote:

> Exactly why couldn't Neandertals produce the same range of sounds? I
> was sure that a hyoid had been found that predates the Neandertals,
> and excuse my bad memory, but I do not have the specimen number handy.
> Is there some other evidence that I am missing here?

As far as I am aware, the Kebara Neandertal hyoid bone is the earliest
one known for a hominid. There are none that I know of for any earlier
species of the genus Homo, nor any for Australopithecus. The main
argument is that
the cranial base angle for Neandertals is somewhat more obtuse than in
modern Homo, suggesting a larnygeal anatomy not yet fully descended. The
hyoid is of great importance, not simply because of its functional roles
but bprecisely because it is a bone and survived. The cranial base is
highly variable and it is not truly possible to accurately reconstruct
the larnygeal soft tissues relationships of fossil Neandertals.
Ralph Holloway