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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 Jul 6;101(27):9976-81. Epub 2004 Jun 22.

Auditory capacities in Middle Pleistocene humans from the Sierra de Atapuerca in Spain.

Author information

  • 1Departamento de Geología, Universidad de Alcalá, Edificio de Ciencias, Campus Universitario, 28871 Alcalá de Henares, Spain. imartinezm@isciii.es

Abstract

Human hearing differs from that of chimpanzees and most other anthropoids in maintaining a relatively high sensitivity from 2 kHz up to 4 kHz, a region that contains relevant acoustic information in spoken language. Knowledge of the auditory capacities in human fossil ancestors could greatly enhance the understanding of when this human pattern emerged during the course of our evolutionary history. Here we use a comprehensive physical model to analyze the influence of skeletal structures on the acoustic filtering of the outer and middle ears in five fossil human specimens from the Middle Pleistocene site of the Sima de los Huesos in the Sierra de Atapuerca of Spain. Our results show that the skeletal anatomy in these hominids is compatible with a human-like pattern of sound power transmission through the outer and middle ear at frequencies up to 5 kHz, suggesting that they already had auditory capacities similar to those of living humans in this frequency range.

PMID:
15213327
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC454200
Free PMC Article
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