Scientists keep finding evidence that Neanderthals were a lot more like us than ever thought, not just in how they lived and related to each other as a society, but how they communicated as well. Now, a new find involving a small horseshoe shaped bone in the throat confirms that they were far from grunting brutes, and had the ability for complex speech.
The bone, known as the hyoid supports the root of the tongue, and while it is present in non-human primates, they cannot vocalize as we do because “ it is not placed in the right position.”
However, The researchers led by Stephen Wroe of Australia’s University of New South Wales, were able to determine how the Hyoid bone operated in Neanderthals by using 3D x-ray imaging and mechanical modeling to analyze a fossil Neanderthal throat bone in order to determine how it worked in relation to other surrounding bones.
"We would argue that this is a very significant step forward," Wroe told the BBC. "It shows that the bone doesn't just look like those of modern humans -- it was used in a very similar way,"Wroe told the BBC. " While many scientists have held to the belief that complex language (one of the most fundamental characteristics of being human) has only been used for the past 100,000, our findings prove that if Neanderthals also had language then they, too, were truly human."