Re: Neanderthals...

Gerrit Hanenburg (
Thu, 5 Oct 1995 13:18:40 GMT (MFeldman77) wrote:

>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.

The characteristic human speech sounds are produced in the oral cavity.
The ability to produce these sounds cannot be predicted from the morphology
of the pharynx which is only linked with phonation.Analysis of oral
dimensions demonstrates that Neanderthals did not differ significantly from
modern humans in this respect.So there is no evidence Neanderthals differed
from modern humans in the range of their speech sounds.(Duchin,L.E(1990)
The evolution of articulate speech;comparative anatomy of the oral cavity
in Pan and Homo.Journal of Human Evolution 19:684-685)