Re: Archaic H. sapiens???

Dan Barnes (
Thu, 23 Jan 1997 17:38:02 GMT

In article <>, says...
>MSCob wrote:
>> Michael McBroom wrote about the Neanderthal palate and throat:
>> The morphology of the Neanderthal palate and
>> basicranial area, however, indicates that his vowel and consonant
>> inventory was much more limited than ours.

>Apparently, however, because of the shape of the basicranium and palate,
>certain consonants, like the velars [k] and [g], and perhaps fricatives
>such as the "sh" sound would have been impossible. But these
>limitations, even when added to the lack of the vowels [i], [a], and
>[u], cannot be used as proof that language was not present. The
>combination of these factors with archeological evidence, however, do
>tend to paint a picture of a group that, if it did have language, it was
>perhaps a more limited form than what we possess. The theory that
>Neanderthal was "overrun" by a superior culture of language-weilding,
>crafty, and conniving H. sapiens carries a lot more weight in this
>context. There is no way to prove or disprove any of this, though.
There are a number of interesting points here. I have recently been finding
features that not only seperate Neanderthals from AMHs but also from the rest
of the rest of the hominids and in some cases the hominoids. These seem to
include the inner ear morphology (see work by Spoor) and the index of the
foramen magnum. If I remember correctly the basicranium differs from what are
commonly thought to be the Ns ancestors in Europe (H.h.) and this feature
appears to get more like the ancestral condition of the earlier hominids (I'm
trying to avoid terms like 'primitive', etc.). Is this correct? If so (apart from its
possible effects on language ability) is there a functional explanation for this?

Also I would doubt that after the work done by Schepartz (1993) a language
driven extinction of the Ns can be the main factor (although there are subtle
differences in MP AMHs, i.e femoral neck angles, seasonality in hunting, fishing,
that seperate the two peoples even before the UP). However, Hayden (1993)
seems to indicate that the shift that occured at the UP/MP transition was an
economic/technological one rather than an anatomical one (although there may
have been a pre-adaption that could have permitted this cognitive leap).
However, this is not to deny a linguistic superiority of AMHs but it is a fact that
would be very difficult to establish from the evidence we have.