The discovery of 5,500 Homo heidelbergensis fossil specimens at the Sima de los Huesos archaeological site in Spain has opened up the opportunity for research to be conducted on the vocal capabilities of this species. Previous research has revealed that the range of vowel sounds an individual can produce, known as the vowel space, is directly affected by the dimensions of the vocal tract. The vowel spaces of two hominins, Homo sapiens and Homo neanderthalensis, have been reconstructed through previous research. However, the vowel space of Homo heidelbergensis has not yet been reconstructed. In this research, I aim to explore how the dimensions of the Homo heidelbergensis vocal tract affect the vowel space of that species. This was pursued by measuring the craniospinal dimensions of five Homo heidelbergensis specimens through three dimensional imaging software. When measurements were unattainable due to limitations in the fossil record, regression equations were used to predict missing measurements. By doing so, the vowel space of this species was reconstructed, and crucial information into the vocal capabilities of this close human ancestor was revealed.
Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)
College of Sciences
Orlando (Main) Campus
Stanley, Austin Blake, "Reconstructing the Vocal Capabilities of Homo Heidelbergensis, a Close Human Ancestor" (2018). Honors in the Major Theses. 312.