An international team of researchers stated that Neanderthals could understand and reproduce human speech. They figured this out by creating virtual 3D models of ear structures in Homo sapiens and Neanderthals.
Neanderthals – the closest ancestors of modern humans – had the ability to perceive and produce human speech, according to a new study published by an international multidisciplinary team of researchers.
“This is one of the most important studies that we have participated in throughout our career. The results are convincing and clearly show that Neanderthals had the ability to perceive and develop human speech. It is one of the few ongoing fossil-based research lines to study the evolution of language; this is a very difficult study for anthropologists, ”the scientists noted.
They also added that the evolution of the language and linguistic abilities of Neanderthals is a long-standing issue of human evolution.
The study used high-resolution CT scans to create virtual 3D models of ear structures in Homo sapiens and Neanderthals, as well as earlier fossils that represent the ancestors of Neanderthals. The data collected from the 3D models was fed into a software model developed in the field of auditory bioengineering. So scientists were able to see that their hearing abilities reached up to 5 kHz – they covered most of the frequency range of modern sounds of human speech.
Another result of the study was that Neanderthal speech included heavy use of consonants. The scientists added that this discovery was an interesting aspect that could lead to an even more active study of the linguistic abilities of fossil human ancestors.