The Speech Capabilities of late Archaic Homo Sapiens
Ivy Tech Community College
December 4, 2012
Although there is no direct evidence and a species language or their language capabilities do not fossilize, coupled with more modern techniques being used today and archeological evidence, it is possible now to study this topic with more success than in previous years. There is a record that supports the suggestion of Homo neandertal speech capabilities. Previous to the recovery of an intact middle paleolithic hyoid bone, the reconstructed vocal tract and the FOXP2 gene, the lack of evidence on the speech capabilities of Homo neandertals led most scholars to regard the topic as unsuitable for serious study (2012) .
H. neandertal speech capabilities have proven in recent years to be a task capturing much of the time and research of anthropologist. In the 20th century it was commonly thought that H. neandertal was too brutish and simple to have evolved into modern humans, and had very little modern behavior or capabilities. As the fossil record grew and the technology progressed the scientific community found evidence of modern behavior and possibly speech capabilities, that would portray H. neandertal as the advance subspecies he was instead of the brutish, unintelligent being that had been reinforced through the 20th century. Empirical evidence that supports speech capabilities among H. neandertal could mean origins of modern language, larger cultural leaps than once thought and a variety of social relationships among these archaic Homo Sapiens . It is generally agreed that origins of language are closely tied to the origins of modern human behavior, although there is little agreement on the implications. The discovery of the hyoid bone, reconstructions of the vocal tract including the cranial base and the larynx, the DNA sequence of H. neandertal that carried the FOXP2 gene (fork head box protein) and is known as the language gene suggests that H. neanderthal may have had anatomically modern speech capabilities, but it is doubtful that they possessed a fully modern language (2012). As it was earlier stated, it is generally agreed upon that the origins of language are closely tied to the origins of modern behavior, having some form of communication would allow for expansion of culture including knowledge, art, music and religion. Any numbers of these things classify us as being human, and imply some form language. H. neanderthalensis are a now extinct species of the genus Homo, although their genome lives on, who first appeared in Europe around 600,000–350,000 years ago living until about 30,000 years ago (2012). Genetic Evidence suggests that H. neandertal contributed DNA to anatomically modern humans. Up to 4% of the genetic population of Eurasia was contributed by H. neandertals through low levels of interbreeding (2012). H. neandertals were short in stature with the males standing 65-66 inches and females standing around 60-61 inches. H. neandertal features include a long low skull, protruding brow ridges, large teeth especially the anterior dentition and a wide body with short limbs (Larsen, 2011) A number of fairly complete skeletons exist providing insights into the biology and the behavior of these ancient humans. The speech capabilities of H. neandertal have long been disputed among scientists. Those against believe that the larynx of H. neandertal in the vocal tract was positioned to high and lacked the anatomy to make the sounds of modern humans. Some have also said that the H. neandertal vocal tract is similar to that of an infant and never fully develops into a mature adult stage vocal tract (Johnson). Those who believe that H. neandertals had speech capabilities believe that coupled with the hyoid bone, the reconstructed skull provides possible proof of speech capabilities, but does this mean that H. neandertals had a modern language, and were capable of...