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The sound of the Neanderthal
An article by Kate Horowitz on mentalfloss.com - Here's What a Neanderthal's Voice Might Have Sounded Like - reports on the sounds of the Stone Age.
Patsy Rodenburg, a vocal expert working with the BBC, suggests that Neanderthal vocalizations may have sounded less like low grunts and more like high-pitched shrieks.
As vocal coach for Judi Dench, Ian McKellen, Nicole Kidman, and Daniel Day-Lewis, she is used to coaxing round vowels and resonance out of the human body. What about the Neanderthal?
Neanderthals' upper jawbones continued growing forwards for years after they were born, explaining the distinctive protruding face shape of this extinct human species. Image: Natural History Museum.
Working from a Neanderthal's skeletal remains, a team of scientists created physical and virtual models of our prehistoric relative. They used these to extrapolate measurements and estimates of the Neanderthals' abilities and traits. They also created a model of a Neanderthal throat and showed it, along with the skeleton, to Rodenburg.
She concluded that the shape of the throat, combined with the dimensions of the Neanderthal's skull and chest, would have produced some very unusual and very loud noises.
Rodenburg's hypothesis has yet to be supported by additional scientific research.
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