Speech in H. erectus

Harry Erwin (herwin@gmu.edu)
Sun, 09 Jul 1995 21:38:01 -0400

I just finished browsing Tattersall, the Fossil Trail. He makes some very
good arguments about the probable lack of speech in early H. erectus. In
particular, he points out three features in the KNMER-15000 skeleton that
suggest the Turkana Boy lacked language:
1. The evidence of the small diameter spinal column that his chest lacked
the detailed motor control that we have,
2. The flat base of the skull indicating that there was insufficient room
for a laryngial tract that could support complex language, and
3. The conical chest shape (similar to that of Lucy and better adapted to
climbing than our enlarged chest) that indicates he lacked chest volume.

This told me a second thing as well--he probably was not good at holding
his breath while swimming.

Harry Erwin
Internet: herwin@gmu.edu
Home Page: http://osf1.gmu.edu/~herwin (try again if necessary)
PhD student in comp neurosci: "Glitches happen" & "Meaning is emotional"