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April 15, 2008

Scientists Discover Neanderthals Looked Exactly Like Gelflings From The Dark Crystal

darkcrystalcrop.jpg

L to R: A savage, barbaric offshoot of mankind;
a Muppet offshoot of Frodo Baggins

The article's really about an attempt to synthesize what speaking sounds Neanderthals could make based on their physiology.

Robert McCarthy, an anthropologist at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton has used new reconstructions of Neanderthal vocal tracts to simulate the voice. He says the ancient human's speech lacked the "quantal vowel" sounds that underlie modern speech.

Quantal vowels provide cues that help speakers with different size vocal tracts understand one another, says McCarthy, who was talking at the annual meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists in Columbus, Ohio, on April 11.

"They would have spoken a bit differently. They wouldn't have been able to produce these quantal vowels that form the basis of spoken language," he says.

...

Though subtle, the linguistic difference would have limited Neanderthal speech, McCarthy says.

...

People missing a copy of FOXP2 suffer from language and speech disorders, and humans have a version of the gene that is different from other animals including chimpanzees, our nearest relatives.

Yet other genetic evidence suggests that spoken language shaped the recent evolution of humans. John Hawks, a biological anthropologist at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, also spoke at the Ohio meeting. He says that some genes important to hearing changed rapidly in modern humans, perhaps because the genes helped decode new, more complex spoken languages.

"Something's changing in the last 40,000 years," he says. "Maybe this is because our ears are becoming tuned to listening to sounds that have recently been changing."

Recent evidence has undermined previous theories that humans killed off the Neanderthals. New studies suggest that the Neanderthals died out when they lost their primary food supply, which had consisted of sweet crystalline structures made from beet sugar constructed by the Doozers (Homo miniaturus constructus).


Boring, I know.

But I haven't made a Dark Crystal reference in a while, so. I had to post it.

Via Hot Air Headlines.

BTW: If these references seemed 1) obscure and 2) gay, be aware that there is one movie I will never reference:

Willow.

I have my standards.


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posted by Ace at 01:02 PM

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