Neanderthal language abilities cannot be directly observed, but indirect evidence is available in their anatomy, archeology, and DNA. Neanderthal anatomy shows possible speech adaptations, and their archeology contains enough indicators of behavioral modernity, including symbols and ornaments, to conclude that their minds could handle symbolic communication. Neanderthal DNA, finally, indicates both that they possessed some of the language-relevant genes found in modern humans and that they could and did have children with modern humans. From the consilience of evidence from anatomy, archeology, and DNA, one can conclude that some language abilities, if not necessarily full modern syntactic language, were present in Neanderthals.

Keyword(s): languageNeanderthal

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  • Article Type: Review Article
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