Re: Neanderthals...

MFeldman77 (
4 Oct 1995 22:37:52 -0400

I've never understood the interest in hyoid bones. It is a free bone that
is independent of the size of the pharynx. The issue that Lieberman
brings up is not that Neanderthals can't talk, it is that the shape of the
pharynx precludes complicated sounds. There is no doubt that the shape of
the skull shortens the chamber size of the Neanderthal's pharynx compared
to modern man. In fact, the Neanderthal pharynx may have been smaller
than Homo erectus'. In other words, while they may have had language, the
range of speech had to be different than ours.
BTW, Laitman (American Journal of Physical Anthropology 81:254) points out
that pig hyoid bones are much closer to human than the Kebara fossils are.

Mark Feldman
St. Louis, Mo.