Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The World Heard by Hominins 2 Million Years Ago

Two million years ago, hominins heard the world very differently from modern humans, according to a new study.

Researchers at Binghamton University analyzed the fossilized ear bones of two early hominins from South Africa, A. africanus and P. robustus, which lived 3.3 million and 1.8 million years ago. With computerized tomography scans, they were able to virtually reconstruct the ears and estimate the hominins’ auditory abilities.

       A skull from the species Paranthropus robustus. Some species of early
          hominins could not hear as well as humans at most frequencies.

Credit
 Darryl de Ruiter

“They didn’t hear as well as humans, and they are more like chimps,” said Rolf Quam, an anthropologist at Binghamton University and one of the study’s authors.

There was one exception. From one to three kilohertz, the hominins had better hearing than modern humans and chimpanzees.

“They were almost like superhumans in this range,” Dr. Quam said. “They could hear softer sounds than we could.” The findings appear in the journal Science Advances.

Dr. Quam and his colleagues also looked at the auditory abilities of early humans in northern Spain who lived about 400,000 years ago. Their hearing was very similar to that of modern humans, Dr. Quam said.

“We’re on the trail to reconstruct how our hearing changed from a chimplike hearing pattern to a human hearing pattern,” he said.


Source: www.nytimes.com

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