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Neanderthals also asked us - West-France evening edition

Neanderthals also asked us – West-France evening edition

Written by Pierre Celier (Agencies France Press)

Man by Neanderthal is not the dense rude cry imagined by the famous fantasy. He had a hearing system as thin as ours, a new scientific study reveals. So presumably a language and communication skills are as comprehensiveHomo sapiens, Our species.

The cognitive abilities of Neanderthals have long divided paleontrologists, some only argue. Homo sapiens, Our species would have developed the ability to conceive symbols and communicate with them by combining words equivalent to words.

A new scientific study, published on the 1stThere is Mars 2021 In review Natural Ecology and Evolution , Shows it Homo neanderthalancis And this Homo sapiens Had similar hearing and voice abilities.

Expressing complex behaviors and language

A team of anthropologists led by Professor Mercedes Conte-Valverde, a biochemist at the Spanish University of Alcoa, recalls that archeology is still documented “Complex Behaviors in Neanderthals”.

This human line, which disappeared about 40,000 years ago, knew how to bury its dead, but also knew how to make jewelry bodies or sophisticated tools. Homo sapiens.

French paleontologist Bruno Murrell explains what our ancestors shared “With other human lines, it differs from us by their morphology [comme les Néandertaliens, NdlR], The same skills to create and share coding operations ”.

Includes simple factual cognitive skills for creating tools, “It translates an explicit language at least identically, very closely with us”, He believes.

The skull, by a Neanderthal, was on display in March 2018 at the Musi de L Home in Paris. (Photo: Stephen de Sagudin / AFP)

Improved listening ability

To determine if Neanderthals can use language, it is necessary to establish whether they can identify concepts, and if they have the anatomical ability to create and perceive a language to express them, the study authors suggest.

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To do this, they nearly reconstructed the outer and middle ear canals of five specimens of Neanderthals that lived 130,000 to 45,000 years ago. They then obtained values ​​that measured their ability to capture sounds, and especially their frequency range, i.e. their magnitude. Gold, “It’s big, it allows different sounds to be used, and communication is very effective”, Professor Conte-Valverde explains.

Scientists compared these values ​​with two groups of individuals. Modern humans and the first ancestors of the Neanderthals, many of whom were found in the Sima de las Hugos, “cave of bones”, an archeological site in northern Spain-430,000 years ago.

Their conclusion was that Neanderthals shared the same listening skillsHomo sapiens, Especially perceiving sounds with a higher frequency than his ancestors.

Representation of Neanderthals on display at the National Museum of History in Igis-de-Dayak (Tordogne) in July 2008. (Photo: Pierre Andrew / AFP Archives)

The importance of truth in human language

These high frequencies are associated with the production of consonants, an important characteristic of human language, which differ from those of chimpanzees, and are found in almost all mammals, often based on the alphabet. The study indicates that the consonant “Especially important in determining the meaning of words”.

If Neanderthal’s ear grows to understand them, she decides that it is because he knows how to make them. And ends an existence “Voice communication system is as complex and efficient as human language”.

According to Professor Conte-Valverde, by Neanderthal “Oral information could be sent quickly and with a very low error rate”. She thinks so too “If we hear two Neanderthals talking behind a screen, we think we’ve talking a foreign language to people from another country without being able to see them.”.

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Paleo Andrologist Antoine Balzo of the National Museum of Natural History qualifies for the scientific article“Interesting, with a cautious approach” teachers. In particular, he takes their advice “Compare with these resultsHomo sapiens Old “.

In the end, the key to Neanderthals’ understanding of the universe, rather than biology or genetics, lies in its ” Cultural aspects, they are very important ”. To be very simple, we are at the levels of ideas that represent their spread, so “We can release some sounds to create groups of words”.