Old 07-12-2008, 06:30 PM Offline   #1 (permalink)



 
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Default Language May Have Evolved Earlier Than Supposed

Science News reports on research suggesting that humans' language ability may have developed earlier than we thought. Scientists used CT scanning of H. heidelbergensis skulls, more than 530,000 years old, to reconstruct the structure of the ear canal of this Neanderthal ancestor. They found evidence that the ears of these early hominids would have had a sensitivity peak in the same 2-4 KHz range that the ears of modern humans do — the range in which most information is carried in language. Sensory systems are neurologically expensive, and it's unlikely that the body would invest the resources in maintaining such a system if it didn't serve a purpose. Quoting: "It may be time to rethink the stereotype of grunting, wordless Neanderthals. The prehistoric humans may have been quite chatty — at least if the ear canals of their ancestors are any indication. The findings suggest human speech may have originated earlier than some researchers contend. Anthropologists disagree about whether language sprang up rapidly around 50,000 years ago or emerged more gradually over a longer period of time..."
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