Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Neanderthals Speak Again After 30,000 Years

Date:
April 21, 2008
Source:
Florida Atlantic University
Summary:
An anthropologist has reconstructed vocal tracts that simulate the sound of the Neanderthal voice. Using 50,000-year-old fossils from France and a computer synthesizer, the researcher has generated a recording of how a Neanderthal would pronounce the letter "e."

Dr. Robert McCarthy of Florida Atlantic University has reconstructed vocal tracts that simulate the voice of Neanderthals. (Shown above: Model of the Neanderthal man, exhibited in the Dinosaur Park Mόnchehagen, Germany.)
Credit: iStockphoto/Klaus Nilkens

Dr. Robert McCarthy, an assistant professor of anthropology in the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters at Florida Atlantic University, has reconstructed vocal tracts that simulate the sound of the Neanderthal voice. 

Using 50,000-year-old fossils from France and a computer synthesizer, McCarthy’s team has generated a recording of how a Neanderthal would pronounce the letter “e.”  The brief recording doesn’t sound like any letter in modern languages, but McCarthy says that’s because Neanderthals lacked the “quantal vowels” modern humans use. Quantal vowels provide cues that help speakers with different size vocal tracts understand one another.

“They would have spoken a bit differently,” McCarthy said at the annual meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists in Columbus, Ohio in April. “They wouldn't have been able to produce these quantal vowels that form the basis of spoken language.”

Though quantal vowels make subtle differences in speech, their absence would have limited Neanderthal speech.  For example, Neanderthals would not be able to distinguish between the words ‘beat’ and ‘bit.’

For scientists, McCarthy’s work represents an exploration of life 30,000 years ago when Neanderthal humans, our closest extinct ancestor, lived in parts of Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East.  The species died out mysteriously some 28,000 years ago.  

McCarthy has plans to eventually simulate an entire Neanderthal sentence.

McCarthy's simulation of a Neanderthal voice is available here.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Florida Atlantic University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Florida Atlantic University. "Neanderthals Speak Again After 30,000 Years." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 April 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080421154426.htm>.
Florida Atlantic University. (2008, April 21). Neanderthals Speak Again After 30,000 Years. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080421154426.htm
Florida Atlantic University. "Neanderthals Speak Again After 30,000 Years." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080421154426.htm (accessed October 20, 2014).

Share This



More Fossils & Ruins News

Monday, October 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Fish Fossil Shows First-Ever Sex Was Done Side By Side

Fish Fossil Shows First-Ever Sex Was Done Side By Side

Newsy (Oct. 19, 2014) — A 380-million-year-old fish may be the first creature to have copulative sex - and it was side by side with arms linked, like square dancers. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
As Sweden Hunts For Sub, "Cold War" Comparisons Flourish

As Sweden Hunts For Sub, "Cold War" Comparisons Flourish

Newsy (Oct. 19, 2014) — With Sweden on the look-out for a suspected Russian sub, a lot of people are talking about the Cold War, but is it an apt comparison? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
So, Kangaroos Didn't Always Hop

So, Kangaroos Didn't Always Hop

Newsy (Oct. 16, 2014) — Researchers believe an extinct kangaroo species weighed 500 pounds or more and couldn't hop. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
1000-Year-Old Viking Treasure Hoard Found in Scotland

1000-Year-Old Viking Treasure Hoard Found in Scotland

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 14, 2014) — A hoard of Viking artifacts dating back over 1,000 years is discovered by a treasure hunter with a metal detector in Scotland. Elly Park reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins