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 September 30, 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 September 30, 2014).

Share This



More Fossils & Ruins News

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

2,000 Year Old Pre-Inca Cloak on Display in Lima

2,000 Year Old Pre-Inca Cloak on Display in Lima

AFP (Sep. 27, 2014) — A 2,000 year-old Pre-Inca cloak that is believed to represent an agricultural calendar of the Paracas culture is on display in Lima. Duration: 00:39 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Original Mozart Sonata Manuscript Found in Budapest

Original Mozart Sonata Manuscript Found in Budapest

AFP (Sep. 26, 2014) — Considered lost for over two centuries, the original manuscript of one of the most famous works of Mozart's Sonata in A major has been uncovered in a library in Budapest. Duration: 01:04 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Underground Art Reveals WW1 Soldiers' Hopes and Fears

Underground Art Reveals WW1 Soldiers' Hopes and Fears

AFP (Sep. 25, 2014) — American doctor and photographer Jeff Gusky reveals the underground quarries used by the soldiers of World War One, and the artwork they left behind which illustrates their hopes and fears. Duration: 02:15 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Ice Age Wooly Mammoth Remains for Sale

Raw: Ice Age Wooly Mammoth Remains for Sale

AP (Sep. 23, 2014) — A rare, well-preserved skeleton of a woolly mammoth is going on sale at Summers Place Auctions hope the 11.5-foot tall, almost intact specimen will fetch between $245,000 to $409,000. (Sept. 23) Video provided by AP
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