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Neanderthals and Their Ability to Communicate

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Jeremy Becker

on 24 April 2010

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Transcript of Neanderthals and Their Ability to Communicate

Was Communication a Factor in Neanderthal Extinction? Neanderthal Background Homo neanderthalensis- Hominid branch living in Europe during the last Age
Distinct species from anatomically modern humans
Different mitochondrial DNA
Isolation from Homo erectus and early modern human population
Went extinct about 30,000 years ago
Physical Speech Capabilities Lieberman-used reconstructions of Neanderthal remains to extrapolate the larynx position
Compared Neanderthals to anatomically modern human adults and infants Concluded that Neanderthals could not produce several consonant and vowel sounds
Objections to Lieberman Carlisle and Siegel- argued that Lieberman's reconstruction was inaccurate
Lieberman looked at casts of one set of fossil remains (La Chapelle-aux-Saints)
Had a relatively low number of human specimens to make a baseline (6 infants, 50 adult)
Disregarded possible variation within both Neanderthal and anatomically modern human populations
Forkhead box (FOX) family of genes related to speech/language disorders
Enard et al.-FOXP2 gene in humans is responsible for human speech/language based on differences between humans, mice, apes, and monkeys
Humans need two mutations of FOXP2 to speak
Humans with only one copy of FOXP2 have severe speech impairment, lose ability to control facial muscles
Genetic Basis for Speech Works Cited Carlisle, Ronald C., and Michael I. Siegel. "Additional Comments on Problems in the Interpretation of Neanderthal Speech Capabilities." American Anthropologist 80.2 (1978): 367-72. Print.
---. "Some Problems in the Interpretation of Neanderthal Speech Capabilities: A Reply to Lieberman." American Anthropologist 76.2 (1974): 319-22. Print.
Choi, Charles Q. “Heavy Brows, High Art: Were Neanderthals our mental equals?.” Scientific American Mar. 2010: 18-9. Print.
Enard, W., Przeworski, M., Fisher, S. E., Lai, C. S., Wiebe, V., Kitano, T., et al. (2002, August). Molecular Evolution of FOXP2, a Gene Involved in Speech and Language. Nature, 416, 869-872. Print.
Gilligan, Ian. "Neanderthal extinction and modern human behaviour: the role of climate change and clothing." World Archaeology 39.4 (2007): 499-514. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 14 Apr. 2010.
Krause, J., Orlando, L., Green, R. E., Burbano, H. A., Hublin, J.-J., Hanni, C., et al. (2007, November 6). The Derived FOXP2 Variant of Modern Humans Was Shared with Neandertals. Current Biology(17), 1908-1912. Print.
Krings, Matthias, and Anne Stone. "Neandertal DNA sequences and the origin of modern humans." Cell 90.1 (1997): 19. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 14 Apr. 2010.
Lieberman, Philip. "On Neanderthal Speech and Neanderthal Extinction." Current anthropology 33.4 (1992): 409-10. Print.
---. "A Reply to Carlisle and Siegel's Assessment of Neanderthal Speech Capabilities." American Anthropologist 80.3 (1978): 676-81. Print.
Lieberman, Philip, and Edmund S. Crelin. "Speech and Neanderthal Man: A Reply to Carlisle and Siegel." American Anthropologist 76.2 (1974): 323-5. Print.
---. "On the Speech of Neanderthal Man." Linguistic Inquiry 2.2 (1971): 203-22. Print.
Steegmann, A. T. Jr., Cerny, F. J. and Holliday, T. W. 2002. Neandertal cold adaptation: physiological and energetic factors. American Journal of Human Biology, 14: 566–83.
FOXP2 Gene Small variation in DNA sequence between humans and chimpanzees
Huge difference in speech capabilities
Krause et al. -Comparisons of human and chimpanzee FOXP2 proteins

Difference found between humans and chimpanzee FOXP2 was not present between humans and Neanderthals

Neanderthals carried both copies of FOXP2, unlike chimpanzee and other non-human primates
Only analyzed two changes of FOXP2 protein after divergence of humans and chimpanzees
Possible that Neanderthal-specific substitutions existed elsewhere in FOXP2
Uncontaminated full sequence of Neanderthal FOXP2 unavailable
Genetic assimilation with anatomically modern humans

Unlikely due to reproductive boundaries between species

Climate Change

Neanderthals clearly are cold adapted, required lots of energy

Violent invasion by anatomically modern humans
How Did Neanderthals Go Extinct? From physical reconstructions, Neanderthals were likely capable of range of vocalization less than that of modern humans

Genetic evidence shows that Neanderthals’ vocalization capability is similar to that of humans

Speech was not a major factor leading to the extinction of the Neanderthals

Extinction was likely due to a combination of climate change and competitive exclusion Developing Research
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