Re: Neanderthals
Sat, 19 Jul 1997 22:00:41 -0400 (EDT)

In a message dated 7/19/97 6:52:20 PM, wrote:

>In a message dated 97-07-18 18:54:22 EDT, you write:
><< Almost certainly, they couldn't have spoken any human language, because
> larynx was all wrong. >>
>How do we know that? I was under the impression that only bones
>survived...what can bones tell us about a larynx?

The larynxes themselves are not fossilized, but the other bones put
constraints on the shape and directions of the air passages (especially once
you take into account muscles, which can often have their shapes and sizes
inferred from attachments). This apparently leaves no room for a larynz
unless it folded back on itself in a peculiar way. I think this is related
to Neanderthal's enormous nasal turbinates. Also, the hyoid bone help shape
the larynx; I can't tell you whether Neanderthals lacked it or had a
different shape.

The point is still somewhat under dispute, because, as you surmise, it's hard
to be definitive about soft tissue when you just have bones.