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Articulatory capacity of Neanderthals, a very recent and human-like fossil hominin

Barney A, Martelli SA, Serrurier A, Steele J,; (2012) Articulatory capacity of Neanderthals, a very recent and human-like fossil hominin. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London: Biological Sciences , 367 (1585) , Article 10.1098/rstb.2011.0259. 10.1098/rstb.2011.0259.

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Abstract

Scientists seek to use fossil and archaeological evidence to constrain models of the coevolution of human language and tool use. We focus on Neanderthals, for whom indirect evidence from tool use and ancient DNA appears consistent with an adaptation to complex vocal-auditory communication. We summarize existing arguments that the articulatory apparatus for speech had not yet come under intense positive selection pressure in Neanderthals, and we outline some recent evidence and analyses that challenge such arguments. We then provide new anatomical results from our own attempt to reconstruct vocal tract (VT) morphology in Neanderthals, and document our simulations of the acoustic and articulatory potential of this reconstructed Neanderthal VT. Our purpose in this paper is not to polarize debate about whether or not Neanderthals were human-like in all relevant respects, but to contribute to the development of methods that can be used to make further incremental advances in our understanding of the evolution of speech based on fossil and archaeological evidence.

Type:Article
Title:Articulatory capacity of Neanderthals, a very recent and human-like fossil hominin
DOI:10.1098/rstb.2011.0259
Keywords:Neanderthal vocal tract hyoid quantal vowels evolution of speech
UCL classification:UCL > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Biosciences (Division of)

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