Neanderthal language, still today?


This video is called Neanderthal – BBC Documentary.

From World Science:

Neanderthals may have talked—even contributed to our languages, scholars claim

July 10, 2013

Courtesy of the Max Planck In­sti­tute for Psy­cho­lin­guis­tics and World Science staff

Ne­an­der­thal peo­ple may have pos­sessed lan­guage, and their words might even have con­tri­but­ed to the lan­guages of our spe­cies, two sci­en­tists pro­pose.

Though the sec­ond idea has yet to be tested, they add, ev­i­dence al­ready ex­ists for the first. Both pro­pos­als fol­low recent find­ings that Nean­der­thals interbred with an­cestors of mod­ern hu­mans.

Da­ta is quickly ac­cu­mu­lating that seems to in­di­cate that Ne­an­der­thals, close cousins to mod­ern peo­ple, were much more like us than im­ag­ined even a dec­ade ago, say re­search­ers Dan Dediu and Ste­phen C. Levin­son of the Max Planck In­sti­tute for Psy­cho­lin­guis­tics in Nij­me­gen, Neth­er­lands.

They ar­gue that mod­ern lan­guage and speech can be traced back to the last com­mon an­ces­tor we shared with the Ne­an­der­thals, roughly half a mil­lion years ago. A pa­per de­tail­ing their work ap­peared in the July 5 on­line is­sue of the jour­nal Fron­tiers in Lan­guage Sci­ences.

The Ne­an­der­thals have fas­ci­nat­ed schol­ars and the pub­lic alike ev­er since their dis­cov­ery al­most 200 years ago. In­i­tially thought to be sub­hu­man brutes in­ca­pa­ble of much be­yond prim­i­tive grunts, they were a suc­cess­ful form of hu­man­ity in­hab­it­ing vast swathes of west­ern Eur­a­sia for sev­eral hun­dred thou­sand years, in­clud­ing dur­ing harsh gla­cial per­iods.

It’s well es­tab­lished that they were our clos­est cousins, shar­ing a com­mon an­ces­tor with us around half a mil­lion years ago—probably the spe­cies Ho­mo hei­del­ber­gen­sis, Dediu and Levin­son say. But it has been un­clear what their men­tal ca­pa­ci­ties were, or why mod­ern hu­mans re­placed them—an es­ti­mat­ed 28,000 years ago—after thou­sands of years of co­hab­ita­t­ion.

Due to new palaeoan­thro­po­log­i­cal and ar­chae­o­log­i­cal find­ings and re­assess­ments of old­er da­ta, but es­pe­cially to the avail­abil­ity of an­cient DNA, we’ve started to real­ize that their fate was in­ter­twined with ours, the re­search­ers not­ed. And far from be­ing slow brutes, they added, their men­tal ca­pa­ci­ties and cul­ture were com­pa­ra­ble to ours.

Dediu and Levin­son re­view all these strands of lit­er­a­ture and ar­gue that es­sen­tially mod­ern lan­guage and speech are an an­cient fea­ture of our line­age dat­ing back at least to the most re­cent an­ces­tor we shared with the Ne­an­der­thals and the Deniso­vans, an­oth­er form of hu­man­ity known mostly from DNA.

Their in­ter­preta­t­ion of the am­big­u­ous, scant ev­i­dence con­tra­dicts the sce­nar­i­o usu­ally as­sumed by most lan­guage sci­en­tists, that of a sud­den and re­cent emer­gence of mod­ern­ity—pre­sumably due to one or very few muta­t­ions. In­stead, the re­search­ers fa­vor a sce­nar­i­o of grad­u­al ac­cu­mula­t­ion of biolog­i­cal and cul­tur­al in­nova­t­ions.

The new pic­ture would push back the ori­gins of mod­ern lan­guage over ten­fold, from the often-cited 50 or so thou­sand years, to around a mil­lion years ago. That’s some­where be­tween the ori­gins of our ge­nus, Ho­mo, some 1.8 mil­lion years ago, and the emer­gence of Ho­mo hei­del­ber­gen­sis. A ge­nus is a biolog­i­cal clas­sifica­t­ion that em­braces a num­ber of spe­cies.

Giv­en that ar­chae­o­log­i­cal and ge­net­ic da­ta shows mod­ern hu­mans spread­ing from Af­ri­ca mixed with Ne­an­der­thals and Deniso­vans, then just as we car­ry around some of their genes, our lan­guages may pre­serve traces of theirs, the sci­en­tists added. The idea, they ar­gued, is test­a­ble by com­par­ing the struc­tur­al prop­er­ties of Af­ri­can and non-Af­ri­can lan­guages, and by com­put­er sim­ula­t­ions of lan­guage spread.

New finds demonstrate: Neandertals were the first in Europe to make standardized and specialized bone tools – which are still in use today: here.

Resourceful Neanderthals in France – Popular Archaeology: here.

Neanderthal and Denisovan retroviruses in modern humans: here.

Did Mexicans Inherit Diabetes Risk from Neanderthals? Here.

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10 thoughts on “Neanderthal language, still today?

  1. 25-09-2013 | Neanderthalers in de Noordzee

    Een jaar geleden deed kunstenares Margriet Diertens op het een bijzondere strandvondst: een vuursteen, zeer waarschijnlijk uit het paleolithicum ofwel de Oude Steentijd. Millennialang lag de steen op de bodem van de Noordzee en is vermoedelijk door een zandopspuiting op het strand van Ameland terechtgekomen. Dick Stapert, oud-docent van de Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, kreeg het verzoek van het Groninger Museum om de steen eens aan een onderzoek te onderwerpen en kwam tot een verrassende conclusie.

    Naar de mening van Stapert was de vuursteen het eigendom van een Neanderthaler geweest. De bijna negen centimeter lange vuursteen vertoont tekenen van bewerking en begon zijn leven als vuistbijl. Nadat deze vuistbijl beschadigd raakte is deze in onbruik geraakt en is vervolgens gebruikt door een leerling om op te oefenen. De steen heeft een zogenaamde januskop – vernoemd naar de Romeinse god met twee gezichten – omdat hij aan de ene zijde vakkundig is bewerkt, terwijl aan de andere kant duidelijke fouten zijn gemaakt. Deze vuistbijl is de meest noordelijke vondst uit de Oude Steentijd. Ooit. Dat maakt hem meer dan bijzonder.

    http://www.waddenvereniging.nl/nieuws/?ref=nieuwsbrief#item_7295

  2. Pingback: Prehistoric human ancestors on video | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: Ancient Neanderthals, new research | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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