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Could we speak Neanderthal?

Forums Forums Science and Technology Could we speak Neanderthal?

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    Little aside. If you want to hear a great use of the click, see if you can find any songs by Miriam Makeba – wonderful singer of the ’50s and ’60s.



    That “hyoid bone” thing is way more complicated than I thought… funny how that works.
    So, as they used to ask: What’s the moral of this story?
    While they were exchanging some genes here and there, pillow talk was inevitable?

    The supposition is that it may have facilitated more inter species dating than was previously suspected, at least in Europe and the Middle East which is why BTW Neanderthal influenced genes show up in those of us with European ancestry. Hmm, I wonder what ever happened to 23 and Me?
    Cap’t Jack


    not much I guess.

    According to Anne Wojcicki, 23andMe has been in dialogue with the FDA since 2008.[22] In 2010 the FDA notified several genetic testing companies, including 23andMe, that their genetic tests are considered medical devices and federal approval is required to market them.[13][26] 23andMe first submitted applications for FDA clearance in July and September 2012.[27]
    On November 22, 2013, after not hearing from 23andMe for six months, the FDA ordered 23andMe to stop marketing its Saliva Collection Kit and Personal Genome Service (PGS) as 23andMe had not demonstrated that they have “analytically or clinically validated the PGS for its intended uses” and the “FDA is concerned about the public health consequences of inaccurate results from the PGS device”.[27][28][29]
    As of December 2, 2013, 23andMe has stopped all advertisements for its PGS test but is still selling the product.[30][31] As of December 5, 2013, 23andMe is only selling raw genetic data and ancestry-related results.[32][33][34] …


    That’s too bad. I really wanted to participate in the project.
    Cap’t Jack


    Check it out, hot off the press:

    Nepalese Sherpas inherited ability to thrive in high altitudes from extinct humans
    Meredith Knight | July 3, 2014 | Genetic Literacy Project]
    On their way out of African homo sapiens likely bred with Denisovans somewhere in central Asia where some of the progeny picked up the EPAS1 mutation. For those homo sapiens that migrated to high altitudes, the gene variant was advantageous, so it spread quickly through the population and just kept going. “What we’re learning from ancient genomes is that while each of them may have contributed only a little to our ancestry, those genetic streams were full of tiny golden nuggets of useful genes,” anthropologist John Hawks told Yong.
    There is precedent for this kind of interspecies breeding in hominids with direct, beneficial genetic effect, Catherine Brahic points out:
    Humans interbred with Neanderthals soon after moving out of Africa, when we were ill-equipped to cope with Eurasian diseases. However Neanderthals had been hanging out in Europe and Asia for much longer, so their immune systems had adapted. There is evidence that humans snagged some of the Neanderthals’ immunity genes when the two mated, perhaps helping us to spread across the planet.


    I read about the Sherpas in the pop news recently. They were more concerned with how the Sherpas could withstand the altitudes though. Yea, it seems that we inherited a number of characteristics from our cousins e.g. Lighter skin. Hawks mentions Paabo’s book in one of his blogs. I’m only a little way into it (Neanderthal Man: In Search of Lost Genomes ) and he discusses the topic in detail, especially referring to the divergence, but not by much of our immediate ancestors and Neanderthal. Good stuff CC. Get the book if you want. I found a hard copy at Barnes and Noble.
    Cap’t Jack


    So they had the mechanism to produce words.

    In order to learn “naming words” we must be social creatures, because “naming words” OR more precisely, “Tacts”, are shaped by social reinforcement.

    Early hominins were probably plenty social enough. Species that have longer periods of dependency on parents in early development, are necessarily social.

    So they probably had names for all sorts of things as well as names for different individuals.


    Do any of the great apes have ‘names’ for other members of their troop?

    Although very limited by our standards, they can make a variety of sounds, so it makes sense that they would call to an individual by using a series of sounds (their version of a word) unique to that individual. It wouldn’t be hard to imagine that ‘word’ spreading through the troop.

    If apes don’t, I’d be very curious to know why. Their brain easily understands words that humans teach them, so not using them in nature would be a puzzle that needed to be solved.


    Great question.  I never thought to ask it myself.  Inspired me to do a little poking around and sadly it seems the answer is probably no.


    Anim Cogn. 2009 May; 12(3): 527–546.
    Published online 2009 Feb 1. doi: 10.1007/s10071-009-0213-4
    PMCID: PMC2757608
    PMID: 19184669
    Gestural communication of the gorilla (Gorilla gorilla): repertoire, intentionality and possible origins
    Emilie Genty, Thomas Breuer, Catherine Hobaiter, and Richard W. Byrne


    10 facts you probably didn’t know about great apes
    Bonobos have runny noses, gorillas like to swear and both species have the same blood types humans do. Facts about our closest animal relatives that will surprise and delight you.



    Be fun if anyone has other information?



    I would bet some of my relatives could, judging by their Facebook posts.  They’d at least have a lot in common with our older, dumber cousins.


    Verbal behavior develops in any species that is a social species, especially if they have the brain power and if they have long periods in which a child of the species is raised and cared for by a parent.

    e.g., Dolphins have names for each other.


    Some parrots appear to have call signatures (names) for other individual parrots.

    I would be very surprised if we do not eventually discover that elephants have names for each other.  They clearly have advanced verbal behavior compared to most other mammalian species.

    If ancient hominids had the biological apparatus for speech AND were highly social creatures, who spent long periods raising their young, then I would be surprised to find that they did not have names for each other.

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