Neanderthals Heard Like Us – West France Evening Edition

Written by Pierre Celerier (Agence France-Presse)

The Neanderthals were not the brutal men uttering untangled screams as imagined by popular imagination. A new scientific study revealed that he had a weak hearing system like ours. Thus it is meant to be an elaborate language and communication ability like that ofHomo sapiensOur gender.

Cognitive abilities in Neanderthals have long been divided among ancient anthropologists, with some arguing that Homo sapiens, Our species has developed the ability to visualize and convey symbols by combining word equivalents.

A new scientific study published on 1is being March 2021 In the review Nature’s ecology and evolution , Shows that the Neanderthal And the Homo sapiens He has the same auditory and vocal capabilities.

Complex behaviors and detailed language

The team of anthropologists led by Professor Mercedes Conde Valverde, who specializes in bioacoustics at Spain’s University of Alcala, recalls that archeology is still documenting more “Complex behaviors in Neanderthals”.

We know today that this human line, whose last representatives disappeared about 40,000 years ago, knew how to bury their dead, but also knew how to decorate their bodies or make sophisticated tools, just like Homo sapiens.

French ancient anthropologist Bruno Morel explains that our ancestors shared this With other human lines, they differ from us in their form [comme les Néandertaliens, NdlR]Same abilities to produce and share symbolic activities..

The simple fact of tool production involves cognitive abilities, Which translates at least a similar articulated language, very close to ours, ” he thinks.

Neanderthal skull, exhibited in March 2018 at the Musée de l’Homme in Paris. (Photo: Stefan de Sacoten / AFP)

Advanced auditory skills

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To determine whether Neanderthals can use language, it is necessary to determine whether they can encode concepts, and whether they have the anatomical ability to produce and perceive language, according to the study authors.

They did this by reconstructing the outer and Mediterranean channels of five specimens of Neanderthals who lived from 130,000 to about 45,000 years ago. Then they derive values ​​that measure their ability to pick up sounds, especially their frequency range, that is, their range. Go, “The larger it is, the more different sounds are allowed to be used, and the more effective the communication is.” Professor Conde Valverde explains.

Then the scientists compared these values ​​with those of two groups of individuals. Modern humans, the ancestors of the early Neanderthals, many of them have been found in Sima de los Huesos, the “Cave of Bones”, an archaeological site in northern Spain, dating back 430,000 years ago.

Their conclusion is that Neanderthals share the same hearing abilities asHomo sapiensAnd, in particular, those of the perception of sounds with higher frequencies than those of its predecessors.

A representation of a Neanderthal, on display at the National Museum of Prehistory, in Isis de Tayac (Dordogne) in July 2008 (Photo: Pierre Andreu / AFP archive)

The importance of consonants in human language

These high frequencies are associated with the production of consonants, which is an important property of human language, and distinguishes it from the way chimpanzees, and nearly all mammals, communicate, to a large extent on vowels. The study indicates that consonants “It is of particular importance in determining the meaning of words.”.

She concludes that if Neanderthals’ ear evolved to capture it, it was because he knew how to produce it. And concludes with the existence of a “Voice communication system is as complex and effective as human language”.

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According to Professor Conde Valverde, a Neanderthal He was able to transmit verbal information quickly and with a very low error rate.. Even she thinks so “If we heard two Neanderthals talking behind a curtain, without being able to see them, we would think that we are dealing with people from another country who speak a foreign language.”.

Antoine Palazzo, an ancient anthropologist at the National Museum of Natural History, qualifies the scientific article as“Interesting, with a cautious approach” The authors. In particular, he takes their suggestion from Compare these results with the resultsHomo sapiens Old “.

Ultimately, he suggests, more than biology or genetics, the key to understanding the primitive universe lies in Cultural aspects, and they are really important ”. Quite simply because we exist at levels of concepts that imply their transmission, and thus “We are able to make some sounds to form groups of words.”.

Stan Shaw

<p class="sign">"Professional food nerd. Internet scholar. Typical bacon buff. Passionate creator."</p>

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