Re: Speech in H. erectus

Ralph L Holloway (
Tue, 11 Jul 1995 13:14:39 -0400

What bothers me about the poor Homo erectus youth WT 15000 is that it was
a youth of about 15-18 years old, and its spinal vertebrae had to have been
small from the beginning. I think it stretches the imagination somewhat
to think about the poor youth running out of breadth after all those
years...The structures were sufficient to get him up to adolescence. A
flat cranial base does not rule out adequate space for a noise-producing
larynx. We need, incidentally, a good study of the variability of those
angles within species. The brain endocast doesn't appear much different
to me than all the other Homo erectus brain endocasts I've seen, and with
a size of about 900ml, this lad certainly wasn't oxygen-starved for his
youth. Needless to say, nobody knows whether he (or the species) could
talk, but I really am far from convinced that the features discussed by
Tattersall and Harry Erwin can rule out language for either this youth or
the species. It does suggest, however, that the aquatic adaptation were
Ralph Holloway