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Auditory Capacities in Middle Pleistocene Humans from the Sierra de Atapuerca in Spain

I. Martínez, M. Rosa, J.-L. Arsuaga, P. Jarabo, R. Quam, C. Lorenzo, A. Gracia, J.-M. Carretero, J.-M. Bermúdez de Castro and E. Carbonell
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Vol. 101, No. 27 (Jul. 6, 2004), pp. 9976-9981
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3372572
Page Count: 6
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Auditory Capacities in Middle Pleistocene Humans from the Sierra de
              Atapuerca in Spain
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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.

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