DNA Study Shows Neanderthals May Have Spoken

Although this may have more to do with the history of the psyche than with the history of psychology…DNA

According to a LiveScience.com story, a study of Neandethal DNA conducted at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany shows that the early humans possessed a gene “which is to date the only one known to play a role in speech and language.” Various versions of the gene in question, FOXP2, occur in many animals, but the version found in Neanderthal DNA is identical to that found in modern humans. According to the story, “People with an abnormal copy of this gene have speech and language problems.” The research team that conducted the research was led by paleogeneticist Johannes Krause. His study appear online Oct. 18 in the journal Current Biology.

About Christopher Green

Professor of Psychology at York University (Toronto). Former editor of the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences. Creator of the "Classics in the History of Psychology" website and of the "This Week in the History of Psychology" podcast series.