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 17, 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 17, 2014).

Share This



More Fossils & Ruins News

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Egypt Denies Claims Oldest Pyramid Damaged in Restoration

Egypt Denies Claims Oldest Pyramid Damaged in Restoration

AFP (Sep. 17, 2014) — Egypt's antiquities minister denied Tuesday claims that the Djoser pyramid, the country's first, had been damaged during restoration work by a company accused of being unqualified to do such work. Duration: 00:56 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
King Richard III's Painful Cause Of Death Revealed

King Richard III's Painful Cause Of Death Revealed

Newsy (Sep. 17, 2014) — King Richard III died in the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, and now researchers examining his skull think they know how. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Explore Shipwrecks Off Calif. Coast

Researchers Explore Shipwrecks Off Calif. Coast

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) — Federal researchers are exploring more than a dozen underwater sites where they believe ships sank in the treacherous waters west of San Francisco in the decades following the Gold Rush. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Museum Traces Fragments of Star-Spangled Banner

Museum Traces Fragments of Star-Spangled Banner

AP (Sep. 12, 2014) — As the Star-Spangled Banner celebrates its bicentennial, Smithsonian curators are still uncovering fragments of the original flag that inspired Francis Scott Key's poem. (Sept. 12) 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:
from the past week

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