Internal architecture and micro-biomechanical behaviour of the Neanderthal Kebara 2 hyoid bone compared with modern human hyoids: implication for speech capacity

This work represents a decisive step forward supporting the hypothesis that the Neanderthals engaged in speech
   Ruggero D’Anastasio, , ”Micro-Biomechanics of the Kebara 2 Hyoid and Its Implications for Speech in Neanderthals”, PLoS ONE 8, e82261 (2013); DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0082261


The origin of human language and in particular the question of whether Neanderthals were capable of speech or complex language remains a highly controversial topic, of great interest to anthropologists. In 1989, Arensburg and his group discovered a well-preserved human hyoid bone from Middle Palaeolithic layers of Kebara Cave (Israel), dating from about 60,000 years BP (Arensburg et al., A Middle Palaeolithic human hyoid bone, Nature 338, 758 (1989)). More recent discoveries of other fossil hominin hyoids have generated a renewed interest in the potential of this bone to give information on the evolution of speech and complex language.

In the present study, several research groups, with different expertise, have adopted an approach based on the comparison between the microstructural and micro-biomechanical properties of the Kebara 2 hyoid and those of the same bone in Homo sapiens. The study was conducted by an international research team with members from the University of Chieti, ICTP (UNESCO) and Elettra in Italy, the University of New England and of New South Wales in Australia, and the University of Toronto in Canada.


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Ruggero D’Anastasio, Stephen Wroe, Claudio Tuniz, Lucia Mancini, Deneb T. Cesana, Diego Dreossi, Mayoorendra Ravichandiran, Marie Attard, William C. H. Parr, Anne Agur, Luigi Capasso, ”Micro-Biomechanics of the Kebara 2 Hyoid and Its Implications for Speech in Neanderthals”, PLoS ONE 8, e82261 (2013); DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0082261
 
Last Updated on Monday, 06 October 2014 11:10