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

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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

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Barney, Anna, Martelli, Sandra, Serrurier, A. and Steele, James (2012) Articulatory capacity of Neanderthals, a very recent and human-like fossil hominin Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society B Biological Sciences, 367, (1585), pp. 88-102. (doi:10.1098/rstb.2011.0259).

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Published date: January 2012
Keywords: neanderthal, vocal tract, hyoid, quantal vowels, evolution of speech
Organisations: Signal Processing & Control Grp


Local EPrints ID: 210927
ISSN: 0962-8436
PURE UUID: 1c07143b-beb2-4e3d-ab25-0ff3a741fbd7
ORCID for Anna Barney: ORCID iD

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Date deposited: 16 Feb 2012 12:00
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 10:44

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Author: Anna Barney ORCID iD
Author: Sandra Martelli
Author: A. Serrurier
Author: James Steele

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