Genetic studies are revolutionizing anthropology, not only in the ability to track human migration, but now in locating a specific gene that allows for language in Neanderthals. A few years ago the thinking was that Neanderthals probably couldn't speak.
LATimes: Neanderthals probably had the gift of gab, according to a new study examining a key language gene in the extinct species.
Until now, humans were thought to have a unique version of FOXP2, the only gene shown to play a role in language. People who are missing a copy have difficulty with speaking and language comprehension.
The version of the gene in chimpanzees, our closest living relatives, is different from that of humans in two places.
But two Neanderthals who died 43,000 years ago had the same kind of FOXP2 as people alive today, researchers reported Thursday in Current Biology.
"There is no reason to think that Neanderthals would not have had the ability for language," said geneticist Johannes Krause of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, who led the study...
Posted on 10/20/2007 7:50 AM by Rebecca Bynum